Reservoir Facts and Information

Population and Drinking Water Supply

  • Lake Whatcom is the drinking water supply for about 100,000 residents of Whatcom County, about half the county’s population.
  • Lake Whatcom provides drinking water for the City of Bellingham, the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District, several smaller water districts and associations, and a few hundred homes that draw water directly from the lake.
  • The City of Bellingham withdraws water from Basin 2 through a 1,200-foot pipeline that goes to Whatcom Falls Park.
  • The population of the Lake Whatcom Watershed is roughly 15,000 people or 6,500 homes.

Volume, Area, Elevation

  • Lake Whatcom holds about 250 billion gallons of water.
  • Lake Whatcom is about 10 miles long and just over a mile wide at its widest point.
  • Total shoreline length is approximately 30 miles.
  • Surface area of Lake Whatcom is about 5,000 acres, with 8 percent within City limits.
  • Surface area of Lake Whatcom Watershed is about 36,000 acres, with 3 percent within City limits.
  • Average elevation is approximately 314 feet above sea level.
  • Maximum lake level is 314.94 feet.
  • The City of Bellingham controls lake level using a control dam at the head of Whatcom Creek.

Tributaries and Drainage

  • Lake Whatcom is fed by 36 tributaries, including: Silver Beach Creek, Carpenter Creek, Olsen Creek, Smith Creek, Anderson Creek, and Austin Creek. Other creeks flow only intermittently.
  • Lake Whatcom also receives water diverted from the Middle Fork of the Nooksack River.
  • Lake Whatcom naturally drains into Bellingham Bay via Whatcom Creek.

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