Lake Whatcom Stormwater Utility

In December 2017, the Whatcom County Council established the Lake Whatcom Stormwater Utility Service Area (Ordinance 2017-076) under the authority of RCW 36.89. The Service Area includes the entire unincorporated (outside city limits) Lake Whatcom watershed (see map below).  The purpose of the new stormwater utility is to provide additional funding for efforts to clean up and protect Lake Whatcom water quality. Existing funding sources are not sufficient to meet current and future Lake Whatcom program needs to comply with state-mandated reductions in phosphorus and meet federal Clean Water Act requirements. No fees will be collected until Whatcom County Council approves a stormwater fee rate structure for the new service area. 

Please read the Lake Whatcom Stormwater Utility Fact Sheet or visit the frequently asked questions page for more information.

Current Status 

Whatcom County Public Works conducted a funding study to evaluate stormwater fee rate structure options for the new stormwater utility service area from June 2018 to March 2019. Stakeholder input and recommendations were provided through a citizen advisory committee. Interested public attended advisory committee meetings and provided comments to the committee for their consideration. The advisory committee made their recommendations in March 2019. These recommendations were provided to County Council in May 2019 for their consideration in a draft rate ordinance (dated May 7, 2019). County Council has been discussing the draft ordinance in committee meetings throughout May and June.  Council requests were incorporated into a revised draft ordinance (dated June 26, 2019) which will be formally introduced at the July 9, 2019 regular County Council meeting.  See council meeting schedule and draft ordinances below. 

County Council Schedule

Whatcom County Council will establish the Lake Whatcom Stormwater Utility rates through the legislative process and consider the proposed rate structure during the council meetings listed below (note schedule is tentative and subject to change). This page will be updated as meetings are scheduled. Visit the County Council page to confirm the council meeting schedule and download meeting agendas. Interested public may attend these council meetings and submit written comments to County Council at council@co.whatcom.wa.us or 311 Grand Avenue, Suite 105, Bellingham, WA 98225. There will also be an opportunity to provide verbal testimony at the official public hearing before County Council.  

May 14, 2019 Surface Water Work Session: 10:30 a.m., Garden Level Conference Room, Whatcom County Civic Center, 322 N. Commercial Street, Bellingham, WA 98225 - discuss recommended rate structure and provide input on draft ordinance

May 21, 2019 Council Finance and Administrative Services Committee: 11 a.m., Council Chambers, 322 Grand Ave., Bellingham, WA, 98225 - continued discussion on rate structure and draft ordinance

June 4, 2019 Council Special Committee of the Whole: 9:30 a.m., Council Chambers, 322 Grand Ave., Bellingham, WA, 98225 - continued discussion on rate structure and draft ordinance 

June 18, 2019 Council Special Committee of the Whole: 10:15 a.m., Council Chambers, 322 Grand Ave., Bellingham, WA, 98225 - continued discussion on rate structure and draft ordinance 

July 9 Regular County Council Meeting: 7:00 p.m., Council Chambers, 322 Grand Ave., Bellingham, WA, 98225 - introduce ordinance

July 23 Council Natural Resources Committee Meeting: 9:30 a.m. (start time to be confirmed July 17), Council Chambers, 322 Grand Ave., Bellingham, WA, 98225 - discussion on introduced ordinance

July 23 Regular County Council Meeting: 7:00 p.m., Council Chambers, 322 Grand Ave., Bellingham, WA, 98225 - public hearing and possible vote

Ordinances and Reports

Advisory Committee

A citizen advisory committee was selected by Whatcom County Council on May 8, 2018. The purpose of the committee was to represent rate payers in the Lake Whatcom Stormwater Utility Service Area and advise Whatcom County Public Works staff and the Whatcom County Council on recommended a stormwater fee rate structure.  The committee provided their final recommendation on March 20, 2019.  The committee will officially dissolve when council adopts a rate structure. Committee members are listed below.  For more information and to read the resolution establishing the committee visit the Whatcom County Council Boards and Commissions page

Sudden Valley RepresentativeLaurence Brown
GeographicTodd Citron
GeographicNancy Alyanak
GeographicHarry (Skip) Johnsen
GeographicNathaniel Washington


Funding Study Issue Papers

Issue papers were an important part of the funding study.  These papers outlined different issues with relevant information on state and county codes, policies, cost, and feasibility.  The purpose of the papers was to provide information needed for the committee to consider the issue and make a recommendation on that specific component of the proposed rate structure. Download draft issue papers below. The papers will be finalized and incorporated into the final study report later in 2019. 

Download Issue Papers

Comments and Questions

Comments and questions received during the funding study have been logged in the table below with staff response. All written comments submitted are also provided for download. The comment period during the funding study is over.  Send questions to LWStormwaterUtility@co.whatcom.wa.us.  


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