TIG Logo  Precious Water in a Glass, ©1999 by Alice Clark logo: clark
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Protect Lake Whatcom ---
---It's Our Drinking Water
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The Lake Whatcom Drinking-Water Reservoir Watershed
is still facing these worries in 1998-1999-2000-2001-2002-2003-2004-2005!
Compare to the Goals set by the three Governments themselves!    Is this a pattern?

Grouped by some arbitrary (interesting) categories, and annotated for changes since we started in 1998.

The Nooksack River Middle Fork diversion - is at risk of being stopped or severely reduced. The reduced flow from the River into the Lake, takes away the dilution which has been hiding the REAL pollution level for 40 years. But the water also does good in the river, for other recognized beneficial uses. For the reservoir - Severe Dilemma!

The Nooksack River Middle Fork diversion - is at risk of having a fish-ladder built, so the salmon in the lower section can get to the upper section for spawning, like they probably did until 40 years ago. But the upper reach of the Middle Fork, and the Lake and the fish found in both waters are until now free of the biological diseases found in the lower river. A fish-ladder would let them carry the contamination up to the upper reach and then through the tunnel to the Lake, predictably decimating the biota in the lake. And, the City is actively planning to BUILD this fish-ladder thing!

The troublesome, unresolved I&I in the existing Sudden Valley sanitary sewer system. NO ACTION! The sanitary sewerage pipelines within Sudden Valley are old and were evidently built with a low level of technology and materials. They leak! Water can inflow ("I") and infiltrate ("I") (leak.) When it rains in Sudden Valley, street-water gets into the pipes and increases the amount of flow way beyond what it was designed for. Then at places farther down the pipe, it backs up and gushes out of other holes, contaminating the ground and the Lake.

Increasing urbanization in the watershed:
  • Northshore Road NO PROTECTION ACTION! Subdivisions and building continue.
  • Academy Road, East NO PROTECTION ACTION! Subdivisions and building continue.
  • Winchester Estates (project was temporarily suspended) The BEST thing the City has done. Water service was denied, meaning they could not get a permit to subdivide. But later, another try by the owner, Peck Uy, produced a compromise, with approval for lesser density.
  • Barkley Blvd - large subdivision plat approved in 1996: We've lost that one - they were grandfathered in and have done the building in summer, 2001.
  • Barkley Blvd - another large subdivision plat requested in 1999: ten acres by Peck Uy. ACTION! The City bought the land, using our forested watershed protection money. Good for the lake, good for the speculator Peck Uy - unsure if so good for the budget.
  • Geneva area - acreage in disputed UGA NO PROTECTION ACTION! Subdivisions and building continue.
  • Sudden Valley - about 3000 homesites were in suspension until 2002. SOME ACTION. The Association had/has a program of keeping numerous vacant houselots out of construction. With the new Interceptor pipe open, this restriction has been lifted, and building is going full blast!!
  • Hundreds of acres along Lake Louise Road. NO PROTECTION ACTION!
  • South Bay - clearcut logging on developable properties. NO PROTECTION ACTION! Clearcutting continues.

Additional urban infrastructure being (quietly?) considered (planned?) for the watershed:
  • The Lake Louise Connector road (to Yew Street Road). SOME GOOD ACTION. The City of Bham bought the Denke land, one of the speculation-parcels which was waiting on the road, so it could be developed. TIG is pleased that this was done with funds from the Forested Lands protection program of the City, exactly the goal of this website and its founder. The County removed the Planning Allocation from their Transportation 6-year plan, in early 2005! Hopefully, the County will never bring this proposal up again, in spite of the pushing by the speculators/builders!
  • The Park Road reconstruction. WORSE THAN NO ACTION - The County went ahead and did a roadway reconstruction, justifying it as "traffic safety". HA! A smoother, wider road is LESS SAFE than a rough, narrow one. There were not sufficient accident statistics to support the justification.
  • Lake Louise Road safety improvements. NO ACTION! This road should be improved, including changing the traffic flow at the intersection with Cable Street, to make this the faster, thus preferred, route.
  • The second sewer line from Sudden Valley, designed for over twice as many homes as presently exist. WORSE THAN NO ACTION! The WD10 fought in court to be able to build this pipeline, and won. They spent far more money (customers' money) on lawyers than the citizens who opposed the plan could afford. Money buys results!.

Toxics transport, storage and residue near the Lake:
  • gas station operating at Sudden Valley. NO ACTION!
  • closed, former gas station at Agate Bay. NO ACTION!
  • industrial chemicals and pesticides at several locations. NO ACTION!
  • two private "junkyards" (my characterization - one is reported to be well-managed) NO ACTION!
  • nearly every garage and pantry has many pounds of pesticides and toxic chemicals LITTLE ACTION! RE-Sources has published a booklet for the public. A necessary but grossly insufficient step.
  • power transformers with PCB's washed into the lake by storm-landslides in 1983, the most recent severe storm. NO ACTION!

Four "closed" (ABANDONED !) dumpsites:
  • Britton Road at Lahti Drive - used by the City of Bham for the crap pumped out of drainage pipes and gutters. Silver Beach Creek regularly tests polluted. Wonder why? NO ACTION!
  • Y-Road-west - (about 3400 Y Road) a nearly unsupervised open gully that had who-knows-what dumped into in for decades. Go by there and look at the black, ooozy mess sitting in the creek bottom! NO ACTION!
  • Y-Road-west - (about 3800 Y Road) a nearly unsupervised auto junkyard that had who-knows-what left in it for decades. The County shut it down as a health hazard. HOORAY! One point positive.
  • Y-Road-east - (about 3495 Y Road) a lightly supervised County-owned trenched landfill that had who-knows-what dumped into in for over a decade. Shut in a hurry in the 80's by the County, before safety-regulations came into effect. ALMOST NO ACTION! The County, following a citizen's formal complaint to the WA State Health Dept., moved towards doing a study. That's it, a study. Shelfart!! (*) NO ACTION!
(*) Shelfart, n. 1) A report offering a solution, delivered, but then placed on a shelf and forgotten; or 2) hot air from an empty place with a round bottom, as from a politician.

  • DNR-managed - County-&-State-owned land. The State, following citizen's formal complaints to the WA State Legislature, has enacted a law requiring the DNR to do an EIS (Environmental Impact Study) to set rules for logging. Good start, and for three years there has been no logging. BUT, the EIS has not been completed, so long-term, definitive protections are still missing. NO ACTION!
  • large commercial forestry corporations continue logging. NO ACTION!
  • a few large private forestry operations continue logging. NO ACTION!
  • dozens of small private forestry operations continue logging each year NO ACTION!
  • roads have been built, then "nearly-abandoned" by some logging operations, causing erosion and creating landslide risk. Many should be reclaimed back to near-natural state. NO ACTION!
  • large fields left exposed to rain-fed erosion by clearcuts NO ACTION!
  • herbicide aerial spraying after logging to poison undesirable bushes and trees NO ACTION!
  • chemicals and petroleum products used (spilled?) by vehicles and equipment NO ACTION!

Historical egregious materials in/on the lake bottom:
  • sawmill residue NO ACTION!
  • creosote and other chemically-treated pilings NO ACTION!
  • barrels or other containers left in the lake, containing?? NO ACTION!

  • there are almost no facilities which adequately treat any surface-water flow to make it even remotely like natural forest-floor runoff. The City (but not the County) has installed two new runoff-treatment vaults in Silver Beach, supposedly high-tech models. They might work, but a cloud of cost/effectiveness ratio will remain until actual operation test results over a period of years have been done, peer-reviewed, and reported. Functional designs and test results are needed. NOT ENOUGH ACTION!
  • those new surface-water treatment facilities installed in the last few years do not yet have proof that they work, even for the limited claims of treatment; Test results are needed. NO ACTION!
  • those surface-water treatment facilities that do accomplish something must have regular maintenance - who does it? -- who pays if there's a cost?; A management plan is needed. NO ACTION!
  • there are no facilities which test or treat any ground-water flow into the lake; NO ACTION!
  • the sub-soil (shallow geological formations) around most of the lake is notably impervious, making any infiltration systems almost impossible to work; NO ACTION!
  • if new storm-water treatment facilities are installed in old neighborhoods, who pays? A retrofit plan is needed. NO ACTION!
  • if new storm-water treatment facilities are installed with new subdivisions, who pays? Full cost allocation to new development is needed. NO ACTION!

So, that's the scorecard. How are they doing?

Looks like there's much for interested citizens or conscientious local governments to do!.....

Prepared by The Initiative Group
Our bottom-line principles are:
Protect the water supply in perpetuity -- maintain ecological viability of the lake for natural species -- distribute the financial burden fairly among those benefitting -- take immediate action if prudent -- take definitive action -- avoid actions which cut off future options.

Back to the TIG HomePage:

The Initiative Group -- Whatcom
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edited October 29th, 2005 -- mgb
Bellingham, Washington 98226 --- The Fourth Corner of the USA
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