“Tough” is not how I would describe the Department of Ecology actions to clean up Lake Whatcom. It’s been 26 years since Ecology determined that the lake is officially polluted, and 12 years since it started a report (still not officially approved) on the extent of the damage to our drinking water. And “tough” is not how I would describe a plan that allows 50 years to clean the lake, by which time my grandkids will be almost as old as I am now.
As the county’s largest lake and the source of drinking water for half the county population, we should be doing more and more quickly. The City of Bellingham plans to spend $200,000 a year to prevent stormwater runoff from entering the lake but the county plans to spend only $25,000. This funding disparity makes no sense: The vast majority of the watershed acreage is under county jurisdiction, and 77 percent of the existing homes and 92 percent of the developable capacity are in the county. Why are Bellingham residents paying for most of the cleanup, although most of the land, existing homes and potential new homes are outside the city limits?