Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How much benefit will this project provide to fish? 

A: The project will open up approximately 16 miles of habitat to Chinook salmon, Steelhead and Bull Trout species. 

Q: Who is providing funding support and why does this project need additional funding? 

A: The City is contributing money to both the design and construction phases of the project (currently a 14% match/cost-share of overall project cost). The existing diversion is fully functional, but immediate action is needed to recover ESA-listed salmon. The City's consultant team has designed a diversion intake solution that supports the City's need to maintain municipal water supply while facilitating the dam removal and improving fish passage. Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and Resources Legacy Fund, in coordination with American Rivers, is providing funding to achieve species and community benefits associated with restoration of habitat connectivity and dam removal. The combined secured funding currently provides a 35% local public and private cost-share of total project cost. In April 2019, the Washington State Legislature approved a capital budget with $10,560,250 in Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration (PSAR) funding to enable project construction in the 2019-2021 biennium. 

Q: It seems like a significant amount of work has gone into previous studies.  Does the previous work help?

A: The previous studies and efforts were used to inform project design; the design benefitted from much of the site information gathered during previous studies. The designs produced during previous work were utilized to develop the feasibility of the options considered in the current project. Without the information contained in these previous studies, the current project would require significant additional field work, modeling and analysis. The design team included a few members with previous experience at the project site, further benefitting from their project knowledge.

Q:  I thought we got our water from Lake Whatcom. Why are we in the Middle Fork Nooksack River?

A:  Lake Whatcom is the primary source of drinking water for the City. The Middle Fork diversion is periodically used to augment the water available from the Lake Whatcom watershed. The ability to divert water from the Middle Fork supports our coastal community by providing the City with a reliable supplemental water supply to meet the water demands of the City and portions of the County.

Q:  What does this project entail?

A:  The goal of the project is to provide fish passage while maintaining the City's ability to divert water from the Middle Fork.

Q: Will this project take salmon recovery funds away from other priority projects?

A: As recovery funds are finite, all projects compete with other projects.  This project is the highest ranked priority in the WRIA 1 Salmon Recovery Plan, and is the #1 priority project on the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration (PSAR) program list. A diverse public-private funding portfolio is being used.

Q:  Are the tribes involved, or affected?

A:  Lummi Nation, the Nooksack Indian Tribe and the Department of Fish and Wildlife are Fisheries Co-Managers for WRIA 1. All three entities are project partners and together with the City, signed a Memorandum of Agreement in 2002, pledging to collaborate to implement the project. The tribes were consulted in the Section 106 process, and a related Memorandum of Understanding provides stipulations.

Q:  What is the timeline?

A:  The bid package is under development now and will continue through summer 2019. The project is expected to bid for construction in late summer 2019, with construction anticipated to be completed in 2020.​


​Stephen Day, P.E.

Project Engineer

City of Bellingham Public Works

(360) 778-7944


April McEwen

River Restoration Project Manager

American Rivers


Public Works Contacts