Lake Whatcom Stormwater Utility

Background

In December 2017, the Whatcom County Council established the Lake Whatcom Stormwater Utility Service Area (Ordinance 2017-076) under the authority of RCW 36.89. The Service Area includes the entire unincorporated (outside city limits) Lake Whatcom watershed (see map below).  The purpose of the new stormwater utility is to provide additional funding for efforts to clean up and protect Lake Whatcom water quality. Existing funding sources are not sufficient to meet current and future Lake Whatcom program needs to comply with state-mandated reductions in phosphorus and meet federal Clean Water Act requirements. 

Whatcom County Public Works conducted a funding study to evaluate stormwater fee rate structure options for the new stormwater utility service area from June 2018 to March 2019. Stakeholder input and recommendations were provided through a citizen advisory committee. Interested public attended advisory committee meetings and provided comments to the committee for their consideration. More information on the committee and funding study are listed below.  Read the Lake Whatcom Stormwater Utility Fact Sheet or visit the frequently asked questions page for more information.

Current Status 

The advisory committee made their recommendations in March 2019. These recommendations were provided to County Council in May 2019 for their consideration in a draft rate ordinance (see below, dated May 7). County Council discussed the draft ordinance in committee meetings throughout May and June.  Council requests were incorporated into a revised ordinance (see below, dated July 9) which was introduced at the July 9, 2019 County Council meeting and was approved after a public hearing at the July 23, 2019 County Council meeting.  Fees will be phased in.  In 2020, 50% of the annual fee will be included on annual property tax statements and in 2021, the full annual fee will begin. 

County Council Meetings

Whatcom County Council established the Lake Whatcom Stormwater Utility rates through the legislative process and considered the proposed rate structure during the council meetings listed below. Visit the County Council page to access meeting minutes and audio recordings.   

May 14, 2019 Surface Water Work Session: 10:30 a.m., Garden Level Conference Room, Whatcom County Civic Center, 322 N. Commercial Street, Bellingham, WA 98225 - discuss recommended rate structure and provide input on draft ordinance

May 21, 2019 Council Finance and Administrative Services Committee: 11 a.m., Council Chambers, 322 Grand Ave., Bellingham, WA, 98225 - continued discussion on rate structure and draft ordinance

June 4, 2019 Council Special Committee of the Whole: 9:30 a.m., Council Chambers, 322 Grand Ave., Bellingham, WA, 98225 - continued discussion on rate structure and draft ordinance 

June 18, 2019 Council Special Committee of the Whole: 10:15 a.m., Council Chambers, 322 Grand Ave., Bellingham, WA, 98225 - continued discussion on rate structure and draft ordinance 

July 9 Regular County Council Meeting: 7:00 p.m., Council Chambers, 322 Grand Ave., Bellingham, WA, 98225 - introduce ordinance

July 23 Regular County Council Meeting: 7:00 p.m., Council Chambers, 322 Grand Ave., Bellingham, WA, 98225 - public hearing and vote; access meeting audio and official records

Ordinance and Reports

Advisory Committee

A citizen advisory committee was selected by Whatcom County Council on May 8, 2018. The purpose of the committee was to represent rate payers in the Lake Whatcom Stormwater Utility Service Area and advise Whatcom County Public Works staff and the Whatcom County Council on recommended a stormwater fee rate structure.  The committee provided their final recommendation on March 20, 2019 and officially dissolves once council adopts a rate structure. Committee members are listed below.  

Sudden Valley RepresentativeLaurence Brown
GeographicTodd Citron
GeographicNancy Alyanak
GeographicHarry (Skip) Johnsen
GeographicNathaniel Washington


Funding Study Issue Papers

Issue papers were an important part of the funding study.  These papers outlined different issues with relevant information on state and county codes, policies, cost, and feasibility.  The purpose of the papers was to provide information needed for the committee to consider the issue and make a recommendation on that specific component of the proposed rate structure. Download draft issue papers below. The papers will be finalized and incorporated into the final study report later in 2019. 

Download Issue Papers

Comments and Questions

Comments and questions received during the funding study have been logged in the table below with staff response. All written comments submitted are also provided for download. The comment period during the funding study is over.  Send questions to LWStormwaterUtility@co.whatcom.wa.us.  


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