While the City of Bellingham produces some of the cleanest drinking water in the nation, the water quality of Lake Whatcom has started to decrease in recent decades due to a number of water quality challenges.
Despite lake water quality challenges, the City is committed to supplying some of the safest drinking water in the country.
The City works closely with the Western Washington University Institute for Watershed Studies (IWS) to monitor water quality trends in Lake Whatcom. Currently the lake is sampled in five locations with 12 tributaries monitored throughout the year. IWS provides detailed annual reports (PDF).
In 1998, the Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) placed Lake Whatcom on Washington's 303(d) list for polluted water bodies because it failed to meet state water quality standards for dissolved oxygen and phosphorus. DOE, City and County staff work together to develop a watershed management strategy that will enable Lake Whatcom to safely meet state water quality standards in the future.