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Clean Water

Whatcom County depends on clean water for healthy communities, a prosperous economy, and the lifestyle that makes this a special place to live. We recognize that the cost of cleaning up pollution far exceeds the cost of preventing it in the first place. The responsibility to protect and restore our waters is an increasingly urgent one. And our Clean Water program has been growing and extending its reach to ensure Whatcom County protects our precious water resources — Lake Whatcom, the Salish Sea, and all the rivers and streams that flow into it — before they are degraded beyond repair.

To that end, we employ a wide range of approaches, including: research and monitoring, empowering citizen scientists and clean water advocates, working with polluters to change their practices, engaging in public processes, holding unresponsive polluters accountable through litigation, and providing baseline data to track the health of our local waters.

The North Sound Baykeeper is charged with protecting and restoring the marine and nearshore habitats of north Puget Sound. Taking a collaborative approach, the North Sound Baykeeper partners with businesses, organizations, tribes, schools, and decision makers, offering technical assistance and innovative paths toward greater stewardship. Our North Sound Baykeeper is a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance

If you see pollution, report it! Call the Pollution Hotline:  (360) 220-0556.  
Please take photos and be prepared to discuss location and details about the pollution.

Become a North Sound Steward
Join our North Sound Stewards volunteer program and connect with a group of people passionate about protecting the North Puget Sound. The program provides free trainings and opportunities to participate in beach surveys, helping you become a qualified citizen scientist who plays an important role in protecting our marine resources. 

Volunteer groups led by marine scientists will observe sea stars, forage fish, intertidal species, and more to gather important data that informs policy, restoration efforts, cleanups, and other important projects. Read more.

Balancing Water Supply Demands

Whatcom County depends on a reliable water supply for farms, wild salmon, healthy communities, and the outdoor lifestyle that makes this a special place to live. But plentiful water is not forever guaranteed, so we must work together to ensure enough water certainty for all, now and into the future. There’s plenty of water in the Pacific Northwest during much of the year. But only 10% of our annual rainfall occurs during the summer, when water is in greatest demand by agriculture, homes, and spawning salmon. Whatcom County is at a critical juncture in how we manage our water supply. Your input is needed to help balance the needs of all water users — including salmon. Read more. 

Sustainable Agriculture
Clean, plentiful water is crucial for local agriculture, and sustainable farming practices are crucial in turn for the clean water we all rely on. In Whatcom County, RE Sources and many partners are working toward a balanced, sustainable food system built on principles that further the ecological, social, and economic values of our community. For the past three decades, we have worked to support our community to create a food system that stewards natural resources for future generations, supports the health of farmers and farmworkers, and is resilient in a changing world. Read more.

2019 Legislative Session
The 2019 Washington State Legislature page provides information about legislative activity that would impact Whatcom County and the Salish Sea. The Clean Water program is working in collaboration with Washington Environmental Council's Environmental Priorities Coalition to bring you information on priorities including protecting endangered southern resident orcas; preventing oil spills; reducing plastic pollution; and moving towards 100% clean electricity statewide. Read more.

Protecting Washington’s Aquatic Reserves
Washington’s coasts are incredibly important — ecologically, economically, and culturally. We work with volunteers, the state Department of Natural Resources, and other stakeholders to foster citizen-led, science-based management of Washington’s unique shorelines at the Cherry Point and Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserves. The mission of our state’s eight Aquatic Reserves is “to bring together partners to inspire science-based stewardship of Washington's exceptional aquatic resources.” Check out this video overview of the Aquatic Reserves program, and this video focused on Cherry Point, Whatcom County’s local aquatic reserve.

Squalicum Clean Water Project
The Squalicum Clean Water Project is a campaign to connect with neighborhoods in the Squalicum Watershed, to inform people about the high levels of fecal coliform pollution in Squalicum Creek, and one of its primary sources: dog poop. The campaign also educates citizens on proper and timely disposal of dog poop on trails, in parks, and at home. Read more.

Bellingham Waterfront Redevelopment Bellingham Waterfront Redevelopment campaign brings together community members and volunteers in the Blue Green Waterfront Coalition to advocate for a safe standard of cleanup and living-wage jobs in Bellingham's proposed waterfront redevelopment. Due to state funding cuts in 2016, most community education efforts are on hold. Visit the project page to read background information, issues of concern, and ways to get involved. Read more.

Water Quality Permits
The Water Quality Permits page provides information about pollution permits issued under the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) and regulated by the state Department of Ecology. When permits come up for review, citizens can participate in the public process and comment on the details of the permit, calling for stronger environmental regulations where necessary. Read more.

Clean Water Blog

Visit the Clean Water Blog for information about recent projects and campaigns, opportunities to get involved, and more.

  • Orca recovery: Ensure the public has a say Tell Gov. Inslee to involve citizens, not just government agencies, as we fight to keep Salish Sea orcas from extinction.Send a message here to Governor Inslee, urging him to ...
    Posted Nov 27, 2019, 4:31 PM by Simon Bakke
  • Active Hope: The Salish Sea I love is dying. What can I do? By Hannah Coughlin. Originally published in Cascadia Weekly, October 23, 2019I have been called to the water for as long as I can remember. As a kid, you couldn ...
    Posted Oct 27, 2019, 3:51 PM by Simon Bakke
  • Recent Attacks on the Environment By Simon Bakke. Originally published in Whatcom Watch, October 2019.September 2019, Week one: Trump administration announces plans to undo energy-efficient lightbulb standards first set in motion by George ...
    Posted Oct 27, 2019, 3:47 PM by Simon Bakke
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