Water Quality Improvement Project
Lake Whatcom

Current Developments

Photo of Lake Whatcom On April 7, 2016, EPA approved a water quality improvement plan for Lake Whatcom. The plan, called the Lake Whatcom Watershed Total Phosphorus and Bacteria TMDL (total maximum daily load) addresses an elevated amount of phosphorous, which causes excessive growth of algae blooms and low dissolved oxygen levels.

The approved plan identifies the reductions in phosphorus and bacteria loading needed to restore the health of Lake Whatcom. It also establishes a link between increasing phosphorus levels and urban development.

The plan says that 87 percent of the developed area around the lake needs to store and filter water like a natural forest.

The requirements of the TMDL are now official. Implementation will be the responsibility of the city of Bellingham and Whatcom County.

Next steps:

  • A TMDL work plan, including a budget and timeline, is due to Ecology by October 7, 2016.
  • In 2018, Ecology will issue the new municipal stormwater permits that will incorporate the targets set forth by the TMDL work plans.



Water quality issues


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Technical information

Unless otherwise specified, the following documents are Ecology publications:

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Last updated April 2016
  Water resource inventory area (WRIA) 1 map, Washington State.


WRIA(s): #1 (Nooksack)
County: Whatcom

Water-body Name:
Lake Whatcom

Fecal coliform bacteria

# of TMDLs: 12

EPA approved

Contact Info:
Steve Hood
Phone: 360-715-5211
Email: Steve.Hood@ecy.wa.gov

Bellingham Field Office
Department of Ecology
1440 - 10th St., Suite 102
Bellingham, WA 98225-7028