The PUD is continuously increasing its involvement in local environmental stewardship. We are actively involved with projects ranging from agriculture and energy to watershed protection, salmon habitat restoration and climate change.

Working to Produce Clean Water from Cows – a Game Changer for Agriculture

Coldstream Farms of Deming, WA, a family farm in the Northwest corner of the state, is working to turn their 2,500-cow dairy into a zero-waste business with a cutting-edge filtration system that will transform the cow manure into clean water.  Coldstream is partnering with the PUD and Regenis, an agricultural waste solutions company, on the project.

On average, the cows at Coldstream Farms produce about 60,000 gallons of cow manure a day – 22,000 of which will go through the system’s combination of nanofiltration and reverse osmosis and transform that cow manure into 12,000 gallons of clean water daily.

After treatment, the water will be clean enough for the cows to drink, irrigation for the farm’s crops, and even benefit local salmon runs by increasing streamflow. Other products of the system will be approximately 16 yards per day of nutrient rich solid manure and 8,000 gallons of nitrogen and potassium-rich concentrate which is suitable for use as chemical-free fertilizer. These concentrated nutrients will be used by the farm as well as other local commodities, like berries and potatoes, to replace imported fossil-based fertilizers.

By-products and Co-products Produced through the Process
(pictured left – courtesy of Regenis)

Galen Smith of Coldstream Farms chooses to see the rain as an opportunity to improve their business. “We get anywhere from 80-120 inches of rain each year,” Galen explained. “With that much rainfall, we have to get creative. With this system, we’ll have the ability to capture some of this water and put it to good use.”

One of those uses is through a partnership with the PUD and Department of Ecology to create a convergence between the dairy’s clean water and the nearby Nooksack River.  The PUD considers this clean water membrane technology as a sustainable solution to some of the water resource issues Whatcom County is facing, and the PUD hopes to see the technology replicated on other Whatcom County farms.

Coldstream Farms was awarded a $930,305 grant from the Washington State Conservation Commission (WSCC) to help cover installation, operating costs, and research.

The PUD takes pride in protecting resources to benefit the residents, businesses and agricultural community of Whatcom County. The PUD has worked with the Whatcom County agriculture industry, dairy and berry farmers for years on securing and helping them manage resources to sustain them.

Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association

Washington Conservation Corps

The PUD is helping to support Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Assoaction’s (NSEA) Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) crew in 2019. This is the eighth year that the PUD has assisted with funding the WCC Crew, which is an integral part of NSEA’s salmon habitat restoration effort. They are involved daily in on the ground habitat restoration projects throughout Whatcom County including riparian revegetation, live stock exclusion, fish passage barrier removal, large woody debris placement, habitat assessment and monitoring, and school education programs.

Projects for 2019 will include fish passage projects, channel modification, blackberry and weed control and plantings to create more shade for salmon habitat.

Project Goals include:
• Educate land owners about salmon and their habitat needs;
• Present opportunities for improving salmon habitat on their property;
• Implement salmon habitat restoration projects appropriate for their property and their needs; and
• Whenever possible, directly involve land owners in/on the ground salmon habitat restoration.

Pictured above, NSEA workers place large woody debris for salmon habitat restoration.

The WCC crew is supervised by a Department of Ecology employee and the five crew members are paid minimum wage under a one year contract.

The PUD is a proud recipient of NSEA’s 2013 Supporter of the Year.

NSEA is a community–based nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring sustainable wild salmon runs in Whatcom County.  Organized in 1990 as one of 14 Washington State Regional Fisheries Enhancement Groups, it is a coalition of community members and partners who work together for restoration of wild salmon runs in Whatcom County from the Canadian border to the Skagit Watershed.

Climate Change Study

FieldWorkClimateStudyThe Nooksack Tribe has received a grant to conduct a multi-year study on the impacts of Climate Change on the snowpack/glaciers of the Mt. Baker area and the impacts on streams and tributaries to the Nooksack River basin.

Oliver Grah is the lead on the project for the Nooksack Tribe and provided an overview of the study/work for the PUD at the Board of Commissioners Meeting on September 23, 2014.

The changes in the snowpack and glaciers on Mt. Baker, timing of runoff from the mountains and the quality of water of the runoff will have an impact on the PUD’s diversion and use of water from the Nooksack River.  Click to view Part 1 and Part 2 of the presentation (in PDF file formats).  Photo: Field Assistant measures stream flow and depth near Mt. Baker – Courtesy of Nooksack Tribe/Climate Study

Western Washington University Vehicle Research Institute

Biogas1 Western Washington University’s Vehicle Research Institute (VRI) was awarded a $25,000 grant from the PUD to support its Biomethane for Transportation project. This project is focused on using the excess biomethane not used for power production as fuel, which is produced from an anerobic digester/power generator plant operating at the Vander Haak Dairy Farm, which is pictured at the left.

The biomethane produced through the anerobic decomposition of manure produced by Whatcom County dairy herds has the potential to provide approximately 11 million gallons of gasoline equivalent energy for fueling vehicles. The equivalent carbon dioxide reduction, resulting from the capture and combustion of this biofuel, would be similar to the removal of 90,000 automobile from use in Whatcom County.

The ultimate goal of this project is to support and enhance the future viability of agricultural-based industry in Whatcom County through generation of new revenue streams and reduction of costs associated with environmental impact mitigation. Learn more about the Biomethane for Transportation project.

Nooksack Source Protection Plan (NSPP)

The Nooksack Source Protection Plan was developed by the City of Lynden and Public Utility District #1 of Whatcom County in accordance with WAC-246-290-135 (4) and WAC-246-290-668.   For purposes of preparing the NSPP, the Nooksack Basin is divided into its four primary subbasins: North Fork, Middle Fork, South Fork and Lower Nooksack. The focus of this document is on the areas above the City of Lynden and PUD water intakes.

The City of Bellingham operates a diversion dam on the Middle Fork of the Nooksack River. Information about the City’s diversion and land uses above and adjacent to the diversion are included in the NSPP. The City of Bellingham and Lake Whatcom Water & Sewer District have jointly prepared a source protection plan for the Lake Whatcom watershed. The two source protection plans – the NSPP and the Lake Whatcom Source Protection Plan – together represent a regional source protection effort for the Nooksack Basin.