Reports of Actions Taken (unedited); sent by Elected Officials

Hi Marian,

Below are the public outreach pieces that I am aware of in the past 7 or 8 years. As you can see much has been done, so I guess the question should be has any of it made a difference? Are less fertilizers and pesticides being used, more dog poop being picked up, more bikes ridden, less pavement installed, septic systems being cared for better, etc? And if so has that reduction made any real difference for the lake, or is this just feel good stuff that makes us feel empowered while the lake quality continues to decline? Should these efforts be increased, or should we use the money to buy an extra acre in the watershed each year, or pay a prosecutor to go after a scofflaw?

I will send info on other Goals as time allows.

Thanks for starting this off.


Goal 1 - Public Involvement and Education:


* Lake Whatcom Watershed Pledge - Comprehensive residential education program in the watershed - started in late 90's - $250,000-$500,000 - Educational mailings, website, advertising, workshops, which also included water testing and program evaluation - information is still available at: Parts of this program morphed into current Lake Whatcom Management Program's stewardship efforts.

* Lake-Friendly Gardening Kit - The watershed living kit was developed in 2000/2001 and explains how to manage pests safely and effectively, choose pest-resistant plants, bolster soil's natural fertility, encourage beneficial insects and other organisms, select low-maintenance alternatives to turf, and care for home lawns. Each piece gives tips on improving plant health while reducing the chance that pollutants will be picked up by stormwater runoff heading for Lake Whatcom. The kit is distributed to all new residents in the Lake Whatcom watershed and current residents are able to receive a copy through the WSU Cooperative Extension office or Whatcom County Water Resources Division. (Link to Stewardship Section).

* Lake-Friendly Gardening Workshops - A series of lake-friendly gardening workshops corresponding to topics in the Watershed Living Kit were held in the spring from 2001 through 2004. These provide an opportunity for residents to learn about lake-friendly gardening practices and ask questions of people working in the field. Topics have included Managing Pest Safely and Effectively; Lawn Care and Alternatives to Turf; Soil, Fertilizer, and Compost ; Lakescaping; and Putting your Garden to Bed.

* Expand Lake-Friendly Gardening program to reach additional audiences. Whatcom County signed a contract with the Department of Ecology in July 2005 and currently, Requests for Proposals and contracts have been and are being prepared to implement various subcontracts related to the grant. The project will expand an existing and successful lake-friendly gardening education program to residents of the Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish Watersheds in Whatcom County. The purpose is to convey and reinforce key messages. Educational activities will use several different approaches, including print materials, videos, training of landscapers and retailers, and a demonstration landscape. Consultant help will be used to assist in constructing of a demonstration landscape at Bloedel-Donovan Park. Currently, the City's Parks Department is awaiting the landscape architect's plan before implementing construction.

The new website ( includes information on how to obtain Lake-Friendly Gardening Kits in addition to gardening and landscaping stewardship solutions regarding fertilizers, pesticides, planting native plants, proper disposal of lawn clippings and erosion control.

* Phosphorus Free Fertilizer - A phosphorus free fertilizer has been developed with the help of scientists from WSU. This fertilizer is available a local retailers and provides an option for people who choose to use fertilizer in the watershed.

* Pet Waste Brochures - In 2000, a brochure entitled " Stop, Stoop, and Scoop " was created to help describe the impacts of dog feces on water quality. This brochure has been distributed since 2000 at the Whatcom County Home Show, Northwest Washington Fair, Lake Whatcom Management Program meetings, other community outreach events, and through the Whatcom County Water Resources Division.

In 2003, the City received funding through the Department of Ecology to produce the "Hounds for Healthy Watersheds" pamphlet that provides information on fecal coliform and designated off-leash areas within the city. Pamphlets are available at local pet stores, the Whatcom County Humane Society, the Parks and Recreation Department, the Environmental Resources Division of Public Works, and are posted at the Post Point and Bloedel-Donovan off-leash parks.

During the month of July 2005, a pet waste information station was set up at the Bellingham Public Library main entrance. Information included brochures and data on the negative effects pet waste has on water quality.

The Environmental Education Team recruited a Sudden Valley volunteer for its "Hounds for Healthy Watersheds" program. Also, staff sent letters to community associations to recruit more volunteers to expand its existing program. The program focuses on encouraging dog owners to properly dispose of their pet's waste to keep our trails enjoyable and improve the health of our urban streams.

* Mutt Mitt Stations - During 2000, eight Mutt Mitt dispenser stations were installed in the Lake Whatcom watershed to help reduce fecal coliform levels. Two additional dispensers were installed in 2001. The general locations for these dispensers are the Lake Whatcom North Shore Trail, Silver Beach Neighborhood, Bloedel Donovan Park, Geneva, and Sudden Valley. A number of partnerships have been formed with neighborhood groups and associations to help maintain the stations. In 2000, the first year of the program, an estimated 7,920,000,000,000 fecal coliform were removed from the watershed through the use of Mutt

* Watershed Diorama - The Lake Whatcom diorama has been completed and has been the centerpiece of the City's booth at the 2002, 2003, and 2004 Northwest Washington Fair. The diorama is a scale model of the Lake Whatcom watershed available for use in public buildings, at public meetings and at local events and festivals. The Lake Whatcom diorama is about 12' x 8' with lifelike trees making it approximately 10' high. The centerpiece contains a model Lake Whatcom, which can be filled with water. A pump circulates the water, showing how it flows from Mirror Lake, down Anderson Creek and into the lake. Miniature land use activities surround the lake to educate viewers about the potential for pollution of our water source, as well as demonstrate activities individuals can do to protect water quality in the lake.

* Utility Bills - Twelve different messages were inserted on the City's water bills along with the Lake Whatcom Management Program logo for 2001-2002. Information about Lake-Friendly Gardening Kits and Phosphorus-Free Fertilizer was distributed in Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District utility bills. The goal of this program was to remind the City and District's water customers about activities they can incorporate into their daily lives to protect our water resources and especially our drinking water source.

* Stream Kits - The City of Bellingham Environmental Resources Division offers stream kits for loan to teachers and groups interested in learning about stream ecology. Each kit contains equipment to test several water quality parameters in the field. Instruments are provided to measure temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen and flow. An illustrated, waterproof procedure manual is included. The stream kits illustrate applications of science and chemistry techniques. The kits may be used as a field activity or as a demonstration tool.

A kit to survey the insects in streams is also available. The kit includes Observascopes, kick nets, holding trays, forceps or tweezers, a plastic bucket and an aquatic insect guide. Students can determine the water quality of a stream by collecting and identifying the insects living there as well as by measuring pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature, and flow.

* Stormwater Stenciling - The City's Public Works Department has a volunteer program for storm drain marking throughout the city. Citizens receive education on the importance of keeping hazardous chemicals, pesticides, anti-freeze, and other toxins out of storm drains. In addition to the information they receive, storm drain marking kits and city maps are provided so volunteer groups can help increase the visibility of storm drains and detour harmful activities near them.

* Low Impact Development Education - Brochures and articles on Low-Impact Development (LID) techniques are available to the public from the City's Planning Division and Public Works Departments. The City also held a public workshop on Low-Impact Development to educate contractors, developers, and citizens on the benefits of utilizing LID techniques in Whatcom County. Two LID demonstration projects were constructed in Bellingham in 2003, one rain garden in the parking lot behind City Hall, as well as one rain garden in the parking lot at Bloedel-Donovan Park. The rain gardens are engineered to treat stormwater runoff by filtering surface water from the parking lots through a series of gravel, soils, and mulch topped by select native vegetation that will filter contaminants before entering Whatcom Creek and Lake Whatcom.

* Water Whys Programming - The City of Bellingham and Black Dog Productions produces Water Whys , a television series that focuses on educating the public on a variety Whatcom County water issues, including the Lake Whatcom Watershed, stormwater, wastewater, salmon, and local creeks. The program airs on the Education & Government Channel 10 and KBCB Channel 24 throughout the week, and can also be checked out at all Whatcom County libraries.

* Erosion Control Education - Flyers have been developed describing temporary erosion control BMPs. Information includes a description of the BMP, proper use, and proper installation. These flyers are available at Whatcom County Land Use and are provided to contractors and landowners working in the watershed.

* Homebuilding Series - A packet of educational flyers related to construction in the watershed has been developed. The packet includes information about potential impacts of the various phases of construction on water quality and BMPs contractors and landowners can use to reduce impacts.

* Fish Advisory Fact Sheet and Signs - An informational brochure was created to describe the fish advisory for Lake Whatcom related to mercury in smallmouth bass and yellow perch. The brochure provides details about the advisory and answers many of the commonly asked questions about mercury and the lake. In addition, fish advisory signs were posted at a variety of lake access sites around the watershed.

* Develop an integrated community outreach strategy that targets specific audiences with key messages about lake protection. The new website serves as the main outreach tool to general audiences regarding Lake Whatcom water quality protection. The website includes information on the Lake Whatcom Management Program, the Lake Whatcom Watershed, challenges to the lake's water quality, stewardship solutions that lessen the impacts on the lake, watershed programs and projects, Lake Whatcom library and resources, news and events, and each season the website will have a new watershed topic. The seasonal watershed topic will be the source of news for newsletters and fact sheets to keep a consistent and clear message.

Environmental Education staff created informational signs for the Bloedel-Donovan Park boat launch to target the education of boaters. The information in the signs pertains to the City's Ordinance 2005-06-045, which restricts two-stroke carbureted engines. The sign also addresses why the ordinance was established, when it takes effect, and contact information for the Lake Whatcom Management Program.

* Create educational materials that illustrate the impacts of motorized vehicle use on water quality. The new website contains information on motorized vehicle use and its impact on water quality. The website describes that motorized vehicles are a source of a variety of pollutants from the oil, antifreeze, rubber, heavy metals, transmission fluid, and brake fluid. These pollutants are deposited on roadway surfaces and carried during rain events to the lake. The website outlines the transportation goals and policies that are applicable to Lake Whatcom water quality protection.

Hello, Marian --

I appreciate your Report Card, and for the most part, I agree with the scores.

There is a lot more going on in the city than you report, mostly because the city hasn't (as you point out) done a very good job of letting the public know what's happening.

The Watershed Advisory Board is alive and working. The Council's Watershed Committee, which I chair, has been working all year on several fronts, with the Watershed Advisory Board:

1. We've been attempting to plan a joint City/County meeting about stormwater with the County. We have tried to line up Dr. Richard Horner, Gary Mitten, and Robin Mathews for a joint meeting. Due to schedule conflicts with the three and the Councils, we've had to delay that meeting until January or February. We will have a Joint Councils meeting about watershed issues this week, Wednesday, Nov. 29, from 6:30 to 8:30 at City Hall. We'll be discussing the latest Mathews Report on water quality, as well as stormwater issues.

2. The joint Council Watershed Committee and Watershed Advisory Board have asked staff to prepare a summary of Robin's most recent report for public distribution. That should be available on Wednesday.

3. The City Council Watershed Committee is working on a final draft of a Communications Plan to do exactly what you have recommended -- to let the public know the current state of the reservoir, why the most recent report raises serious questions about land use, what other actions can be taken to reverse the trend toward a decline in source water quality, and justify an increase in watershed acquisition fees so that we can purchase as many of the remaining 2332 developable units in the watershed as possible. You are on our target list to help publicize this action -- I know you'll be receiving information in early January, if not before, about this communication program as well as about the ways the city will try to help the public understand this critical issue.

Thank you for continuing to focus attention on our watershed. We'll be in touch.

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