Approximately half of Whatcom County residents use the Lake Whatcom Reservoir for drinking water.
Where does your drinking water come from?
Water flows to Lake Whatcom from two main sources.
- Rainwater in the Lake Whatcom watershed
- Water from the Deming Glacier on Mt. Baker flows to the Middle Fork of the Nooksack River and is seasonally diverted into Lake Whatcom through a tunnel under Bowman Mountain.
How does your drinking water get from the lake to your tap?
The City of Bellingham withdraws water from Basin 2 through a 1200-foot wooden pipeline that leads to the screen house at Whatcom Falls Park. The treatment plant in Whatcom Falls Park is capable of producing 24 million gallons of drinking water per day.
Learn more about your drinking waters journey from Lake Whatcom to your tap in the following video:
What happens to your wastewater?
Sewers were first installed throughout the developed areas of Bellingham in 1892. These original sewers collected both sewage and rainwater and discharged them into Whatcom Creek and Bellingham Bay.
Most of these early sewers are still in use. Most sewage pipes are now separate from those carrying stormwater and send their flows directly to the wastewater treatment plant.
The City first provided primary wastewater treatment in 1947, discharging effluent into a shallow part of Bellingham Bay, from a treatment plant located near the mouth of Whatcom Creek.
In 1974, Bellingham replaced the Whatcom Creek treatment plant with the Post Point Wastewater Treatment Plant at the foot of Harris Avenue. The Post Point Resource Recovery Plant provided primary treatment for up to a peak flow of 55 million gallons per day for the area’s sewered population.
In 1993, Post Point was upgraded to include secondary treatment at a cost of $55 million. This upgrade to secondary treatment increased contamination removal to 95% before releasing it into Bellingham Bay.
You can read more about the Post Point Resource Recovery Plant and watch a video explaining how wastewater is treated by visiting the wastewater treatment page.
Additional water providers
Although the City of Bellingham supplies water to the majority of residents, there are others that also obtain water from the lake including:
- The Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District
- A number of other small public water systems
- Approximately 250 households that draw water directly from the lake.
For more information, please contact Environmental Resources in the Public Works Department main office.