The Water Resource

The PUD supports the protection and efficient use of natural resources in Whatcom County. Water resource management or water supply planning can help increase water efficiency, promote water conservation, and enhance source protection. The PUD works with local and federal governmental including regional entities to develop solutions for effective water resource and supply management practices.

Learn more about projects that the PUD has taken on in relation to resource management, technical assistance programs and feasibility studies to better assist water resource stakeholders, such as farmers, cities, Whatcom County government, water districts and associations here in Whatcom County.

Resource Management Projects

Drought Contingency Plan – Bureau of Reclamation

On behalf of water resource stakeholders, such as farmers, cities, Whatcom County government, water districts and associations, and others who wish to build resiliency to drought and climate change in Whatcom County, the PUD submitted an application for funding from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) to assist in developing a drought contingency plan for Whatcom County.

The Bureau of Reclamation’s Drought Response Program, provides assistance to states, local governments, and tribes to prepare for and address drought in advance of a crisis.  The Drought Response Program supports a proactive approach to drought by providing financial assistance to water managers to:

  1. Develop and update comprehensive drought plans (Drought Contingency Planning);
  2. Implement projects that will build long-term resiliency to drought (Drought Resiliency Projects); and,
  3. Implement emergency response actions.

The project received local support from various entities including the Ag Water Board, Birch Bay Water and Sewer District, the City of Bellingham, the City of Lynden, the Lummi Nation, Washington State University Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the Whatcom County Executive Office.

RH2 Engineering, Inc. was selected to assist the PUD with the plan.  The draft plan is currently in review with the USBR and can be viewed or download by clicking on the link below.

Draft Drought Contingency Plan Document

Department of Health Technical Support Program Pilot

On January 26, 2016, PUD Commissioners approved a request from the Washington State Department of Health to enter into a Grant Agreement (N218730) to conduct a two year pilot project where the Whatcom PUD engaged with all Group A water systems in Whatcom County.  The purpose was to identify Group A systems needs and to develop a support/training program for these systems to sustain their operations and manage their systems. The $200,000 grant was completed on December 31, 2018, using only 85% of the total grant amount.

Dave Olson of Cornerstone Management Inc. contracted with the PUD to perform the technical work in support of the grant.  The end result of the pilot program produced the Group A Water System Capacity Development Technical Support Program Pilot of the work conducted on the grant from start to finish.

To view or download the report, click on the link below:

Group A Water System Capacity Development Technical Support Program Pilot

South Lake Samish Water Supply Feasibility Study

Under a grant received by the PUD, from the State Department of Health, Dave Olson (Cornerstone Management) worked with the State DOH, State Department of Ecology, Whatcom County Health Department and property owners in the south Lake Samish area to complete a study to determine best options for bringing water supply to residents in the south Lake Samish area.  The study was completed in 2014.

Due to file size, the study has been divided into sections.
Final Study:
Pages 1 – 6
Pages 7 – 12
Pages 13 – 18
Pages 19-22
Pages 23-30
Pages 31-34

North Whatcom County Regional Source Feasibility Study

The Washington State Department of Health has determined that twelve community water systems in North Whatcom County were out of compliance with Drinking Water standards because their ground water supplies exceed the maximum contaminant limits (MCL) for nitrate and/or ethylene dibromide (EDB’s).

To assist these community water associations, Public Utility District No. 1 commissioned a two-part North Whatcom County Regional Source Feasibility Study which was funded by the Department of Health.  Part 1 of the Feasibility Study is now complete. Click here to view or download the study.

Water Resource Inventory Area 1 Watershed Management (WRIA1)

The WRIA 1 Watershed Management Project brings together citizens, local governments, tribes, and state and federal agencies to develop plans for allocating water, protecting water quality, and restoring fish habitat. Located in northwest Washington, Water Resource Inventory Area No. 1 (WRIA 1) encompasses the surface and ground water in the Nooksack River basin and certain adjacent watersheds.  Public Utiliy District No. 1 is one of the initiating governments of the project along with Whatcom County, City of Bellingham, Lummi Nation, and the Nooksack Tribe.

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.

Middle Fork Diversion Dam

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.

RedBarnWhatcom County Water Forum

Rome Grange Water Forum – April 19, 2014
The first forum on water resources and water rights from a county-wide perspective.  PUD General Manager Stephan Jilk participated on the panel along with other five others to answer the questions:  What are the major issues with water supplies and uses in Whatcom County? And What would a comprehensive and reasonable solution look like?  Click here to view the video.

Pictured is a farm located in the foothills of Mt. Baker.