The Whatcom County Council is close to approving new requirements for stormwater control on future developments around Lake Whatcom. First, it needed to extend a moratorium on small lots in the watershed.
Council members voted 7-0 on Tuesday, July 9, to renew for another six months a moratorium that has been in effect since 2005, barring lots smaller than five acres. The moratorium includes an exception for lots smaller than five acres if they are clustered so that a large lot is left vacant, making the overall density one lot per five acres. These clustered subdivisions must be "phosphorus neutral," introducing no more phosphorus into Lake Whatcom than the property would if it remained forested.
The moratorium is intended to control phosphorus pollution in the lake until new rules are put in place. The rules being considered by the council would require future development on all lots to be phosphorus neutral.
Excessive phosphorus from runoff is responsible for insufficient oxygen levels and algae blooms in the lake, according to state and county officials.