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 options for the new stormwater utility 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. 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. County Council discussed the draft ordinance in committee meetings throughout May and June. Council requests were incorporated into a revised ordinance 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.