The primary function of the City’s
water quality labs is to provide city staff and citizens with the high
quality data they need to ensure the safety of the water supply, make
informed decisions, and maintain regulatory compliance for drinking water,
wastewater, stormwater, environmental resources, and air quality.
The lab is accredited by the Washington Department of Ecology to perform
analyses under the regulations administered by the state of Washington and
the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Laboratory staff are
experienced in a wide range of sampling and testing methods. Each laboratory
analyst has at minimum a four-year degree in the sciences, and all staff
members have years of experience with laboratory and field testing in
government and private sector laboratories.
All testing is done using approved methods of analysis. Procedures are
documented through Standard Operating Procedures and the Laboratory’s
Quality Assurance Plan. Our laboratory is open to state inspectors who
review the methods, data and the qualifications of the staff. The laboratory
participates in national performance evaluation studies, where the results
on an unknown sample are matched up against water quality labs from all over
Laboratory and treatment plant staff work seven days a week. State requirements
are such that the drinking water must be tested every day. For water quality
questions or concerns call 778-7870.
Common Drinking Water Quality Measurements
Tap water in the U.S.A. is regulated by the federal Safe Drinking Water
Act. Washington also has administrative code for drinking water treatment,
quality and sampling under the purview of the Washington State Department of
Health. Frequent and thorough testing is required to maintain the highest
standards of drinking water quality.
While staff tests the water every day, customer feedback is welcome.
Quality Frequently Asked Questions (PDF) may help answer common drinking
When customers call the lab with a request or complaint about their drinking
water there are several questions the laboratory staff may ask in order to
determine what actions are needed:
- Detail of problem. If it is an off-taste or odor, describe the taste
- Duration of the problem
- Noticeable in both the hot and cold water
- Noticeable at all water taps inside and outside
- Are neighboring households experiencing the same problem?
- Are there water treatment devices in the home?
- Has there been a long period of non-use?
- What is the temperature setting on the water heater?
The City is responsible for water quality only to the point where it
enters the property. From the property line throughout the home, apartment
or office, water quality can be affected by internal plumbing. If the
problem is inside the home and not at neighboring houses, customers are
still encouraged to contact the water quality lab for help troubleshooting
the source of the problem.
The Quality of Bellingham’s Drinking Water
The Consumer Confidence
Report (CCR) is a requirement of the Safe Drinking Water Act. The
Consumer Confidence Report details the substances detected in the City’s
drinking water. The CCR is mailed to Bellingham water customers every year
in June. Staff attempts to make this report understandable, however,
drinking water quality information is complex and often technical. Customers
with questions are urged to contact the laboratory for assistance.
Bellingham’s water is tested regularly for contaminants. If harmful
substances are ever found, the drinking water staff is required to report
this problem to the public within 24 hours.
Keeping Your Drinking Water Safe
Our customers can play a vital role in making sure water reservoirs and
pump stations located throughout the city remain safe by calling 778-7700
(anytime even after business hours), to report suspicious activities around
our water distribution system components. Be prepared to provide details
including license plate numbers and descriptions of any individuals