The March 9 Bellingham Herald ran a piece on Lake Whatcom by Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville and City Council President Cathy Lehman. Thanks for addressing this critical environmental and public-health issue.
I agree with their vision of a "forever clean and protected source of drinking water." But we have a long way to go. In particular, the current program fails to address key issues: what actions should we take and how quickly, how much money is needed to reach the Linville/Lehman vision, and where should that money come from?
Bellingham, Whatcom County, and the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District spent $7 million in 2013. Is this a reasonable total? At this rate, how long will it take for water quality to reach state and federal standards?
Of the $7 million, 58 percent came from Bellingham, 24 percent from the county, and 18 percent from the district. Are these shares reasonable? The vast majority of the watershed acreage is under county jurisdiction. But a larger percentage (23 percent) of the existing housing is inside city limits. Most of the developable capacity (vacant lots), 92 percent is under county jurisdiction.
How should we spend whatever we decide is appropriate? What are the "correct" shares for land acquisition, public stormwater facilities, retrofit of existing developments (e.g., native vegetation and rain gardens), monitoring compliance with development regulations, and public education?