Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

When are your Board Meetings held?

Board meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. and on the last Wednesday of each month at 8:00 a.m.  Meetings are held at our District Office at 1220 Lakeway Dr.

Can I attend a Board meeting? Can I speak to the Commissioners at a Board meeting?

All Board meetings are open to the public, and anyone is welcome to attend!  There are opportunities for public comment at the beginning and end of each meeting to give anyone who wishes to an opportunity to address the board.  If you would like to make a request of the board, please submit the request in writing at least a week before the meeting in order to have it on the agenda for review.

How do I request an action by the Board of Commissioners?

If you would like to request action or submit a petition to the Board of Commissioners, you can do so in writing by mail, e-mail, or in person at our office.  Requests must be received at least one week prior to the Board meeting in order to be included on the agenda.  If they are received within less than a week, they will be added to the agenda for the next subsequent meeting.  You may attend the meeting if you would like to address the Board directly.  If you do not attend, you will be contacted after the meeting with the result of your appeal or request.

Are you hiring?

Lake Whatcom Water & Sewer District is currently hiring an Operations & Maintenance Manager.

For complete position profile and to apply online, visit The Prothman Company and click on “Open Recruitments.” For questions, please call 206-368-0050.

Billing Questions

How are my rates determined?

Many District customers, especially those who have just moved to the area, have questions about what makes up the cost of their bi-monthly bill.  Some of the factors that affect our rates are serving customers within the Lake Whatcom Watershed, the unique topography of our district, and planning for future maintenance and improvements.  Click here for more detailed information about how rates are set.

Why does my bill amount change from month to month?

Washington State Law requires that all water systems serving 15 or more residential service connections be metered.  Your water meter measures the volume of water used in your home and from fixtures on your property.  Click here for more information about metered water.

Water use from 0-600 cubic feet per billing period is covered by the base rate.  If more than 600 cubic feet are used, customers are charged per 100 cubic feet.  1 cubic foot of water is 7.48 gallons.

If you use more water in a billing cycle than normal, your bill will increase.  Thinking back to the months covered, did you have guests in your home?  Did you fill a pool or hot tub, a pressure washer, or a watering hose?  Did you have a leaky faucet or discover a toilet was running?  Any of these things can affect your water usage over time.  Many customers bills tend to be higher during the summer months.

Do you offer paperless billing?

Customers may set up paperless billing through our partner, Xpress Billpay.  Unfortunately, only property owners (not tenants) are able to set up paperless billing.

When do rate increases occur?

Lake Whatcom Water & Sewer District rates undergo a small rate increase each year.  Depending on the area you live in, you will see the increase each year either on your March 1 or April 1 bill.  Click here for more information about our rates.

My water has been turned off. How do I have it turned back on?

For accounts where water and sewer service charges are not paid within sixty days of the billing date, the District may interrupt water service and padlock the meter.  For information on how to have your water service restored, please see below.

If your bill is current and you do not have water, please call us at 360-734-9224 so we can help!

Restoring Suspended Water Service:

In order to have service restored, the bill must be paid in full.  If your service has been suspended, do not make payment through Xpress Bill Pay, payment must be received by our office directly.

During office hours (8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Monday-Thursday), you may make a payment in person or over the phone for the account balance. A $50 lock fee will be added to the next bill.

Outside of regular office hours (After 4:00 p.m. Monday – Thursday or anytime on weekends) you may call to have your meter unlocked.  Payment in full, including the additional after-hours unlock fee of $150 must be received over the phone or at the office by noon the next business day, or the meter will be re-locked.

Do not remove the lock from your meter box yourself.  If a lock is cut or removed without District authorization, an additional $150 fee will apply.

What is ULID #18?

A Utility Local Improvement District (ULID) is the procedure used to extend service to a group of properties whereby all property owners share in the cost. This process is a formal State defined procedure covered under the Revised Code of Washington (RCW 36.94.230).  Property owners in the benefit area may pay the assessments in a single lump sum or pay in installments over a period of time.

In 2001, the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District Board of Commissioners formed ULID #18 for the financing of the Lake Louise Road Sewer Interceptor. Some vacant properties located within the benefit area were excluded from the assessment role because the property owner elected to “opt out” of ULID #18 by recording a Restrictive Covenant. A Restrictive Covenant prevents the property from receiving sewer service for a period of at least 25 years from December 16, 2002.

The original amount for ULID #18 was $2,792.78 per assessment.

Billing for Installments:

  • ULID statements are billed annually on March 1st to the owners of assessed lots carrying an open assessment balance.
  • Charges for water and sewer service, if the lot is connected to the water and/or sewer system, are billed separately.
  • ULID charges are billed at $139.64 principal and 9.5% interest on the remaining unpaid balance on the assessment.
  • The due date for the minimum annual payment is April 30th of the year it is billed.
  • A 30-day grace period is allowed. If the minimum annual amount due is not paid by the due date, including the grace period, a past due fee of 12% will be assessed against the annual minimum amount due.

For more information about ULID #18, please contact the District Office.

Customer Questions

How many gallons are in a cubic foot?

1 cubic foot of water is 7.48 gallons.

Water use from 0-600 cubic feet per billing period is covered by the base rate.  This is 4,488 gallons of water.

Do I have a leak?

The most common ways that people discover a hidden water leak are through an abnormally high water bill or contact from District staff.

If your meter shows ‘spin,’ or water moving through the meter constantly, for 24 hours or more, our staff will receive an alert.  Reasons for a 24-hour spin can include a forgotten hose or faucet running, a running toilet or leaky fixture, or a more serious leak.  Generally, notification will be made by a door hanger left on the front door, or sometimes by phone.

The District also monitors accounts for high usage.  All accounts with high usage are reviewed by our Utility Systems Specialist and compared to the account history.  If there has been a large jump in usage, we may contact you through a high-use notification letter or by phone.

Occasionally, we will receive a call from a concerned neighbor when a leak is evident, and will facilitate contacting the property owner and when necessary, shutting the water off to prevent issues.

If you think you might have a water leak, you can find tips on how to find it here.

Why do I see District vehicles in my neighborhood so often?

Every day, our maintenance crews and Utility Systems Specialist are out in the neighborhoods within the District.  They are doing routine maintenance on the pump stations that bring your water, addressing customer issues, reading meters, tackling improvement projects, maintaining fire hydrants, notifying customers of high use  or possible leaks, making sure meters are in working order, and more.  If you have questions, please feel free to call our office!

What does it mean to flush a water main and why are you doing it?

Water main flushing is the process of cleaning or “scouring” the interior of water distribution mains (pipes) by sending a rapid flow of water through the mains. Distribution mains convey water to homes, businesses and hydrants in your neighborhood.

Flushing helps maintain water quality. The water entering distribution mains is of very high quality; however, water quality can deteriorate in distribution mains if the mains are not properly managed.  Flushing the lines removes sediments from the mains and helps to remove water that can get caught in dead ends.

When you see a ‘Water Main Flushing in Progress’ sign in your neighborhood, it means that some part of the area is being flushed.  Signs may stay up for quite a while since flushing is routine maintenance, and sometimes gets bumped by more emergent work.  Most individual customers are only directly affected for a few hours each as we flush past their property.

Sometimes during flushing, some sediment may get into your home’s plumbing.  If this happens, please be patient and allow your cold water to run for a few minutes at full velocity. During this time, you should avoid using hot water to prevent sediment accumulation in your hot water tank.

Where does my water come from?

The District has three distinct water systems serving the mostly residential areas around Lake Whatcom.  The Agate Heights water system serves a small residential area near Agate Bay with water from an artesian well.  The water is drawn from the well and undergoes a chlorination and filtration process at our Agate Heights Water Treatment Plant before being piped to the residences that it serves.

The Eagleridge water distribution system serves a small residential area on the North Shore of Lake Whatcom with water that is purchased from the City of Bellingham and piped through the District’s water distribution system to its customers.

The South Shore water distribution system serves the Geneva and Sudden Valley areas with surface water that originates from Lake Whatcom.  The District draws its water from Basin #3 of the lake near Sudden Valley.  The water then enters our water treatment plant where it undergoes filtration and disinfection before being distributed to our customers.  As with all three of our water systems, the water produced at our Sudden Valley Water Treatment Plant is of a very high quality which meets or exceeds all federal and state requirements.

What is in my water?

In accordance with the Federal Government’s re-authorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1996, all public water utilities and companies are required to prepare and provide annual drinking water quality reports to their customers.  As well as being required by Federal Law, we want to keep our customers informed about the excellent water services that we provide.  Our primary goal is to provide safe, dependable, and high quality drinking water to our customers.  Click here to view the most recent consumer confidence reports and learn more about water quality in the District.

Where is my sewage treated?

Because the entirety of the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District is located within the boundaries of the Lake Whatcom Watershed, all wastewater must be transported to the City of Bellingham’s wastewater treatment plant located at Post Point in the Fairhaven area.

The City of Bellingham’s sewage treatment bill accounts for roughly 1/4 of the District’s annual operating budget. Sewer disposal costs and a share of the City’s facility upgrades and maintenance costs to the District are based upon the volume of sewage that is sent to the wastewater treatment plant.

Where is my water treated?

The District has three distinct water systems serving the mostly residential areas around Lake Whatcom.

The Agate Heights water system serves a small residential area near Agate Bay with water from an artesian well.  The water is drawn from the well and treated at our Agate Heights Water Treatment Plant before being piped to the residences that it serves.

The Eagleridge water distribution system serves a small residential area on the North Shore of Lake Whatcom with water that is purchased from, and treated by, the City of Bellingham and piped through the District’s water distribution system to its customers.

The South Shore water distribution system serves the Geneva and Sudden Valley areas with water treated at our water treatment plant in Sudden Valley.

Can you recommend a plumber?

We are not able to recommend specific plumbers to our customers, however, there are many qualified plumbers in Bellingham.  If you are looking for a contractor to install a new water or sewer connection, please see our information about Bonded Contractors.

What is a Cross Connection?

A cross connection is any actual or potential physical connection between a potable (i.e., drinkable) water line and any pipe, vessel, or machine containing a non-potable fluid, solid, or gas where the non-potable substance can enter the potable water system by backflow. Garden hoses left connected and turned on when not in use can easily contaminate your home plumbing system. For questions or concerns about potential Cross Connections, please contact Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District employee Rich Munson at (360) 737-9224.

Your residence has obligations regarding cross connections.  If your residence has an in-ground irrigation system, heat pump, boiler or any other type of identified cross connection that requires a backflow prevention device, you are required to have the device inspected annually by a State Certified Backflow Assembly Tester.

Remember: a cross connection not only threatens your health and safety, but that of your neighbors and the community as a whole, so please do your part to prevent them.

Cross Connection Control – District Resolution 227

Building & Permitting Questions

How do I become a bonded contractor with the District?

If you have been hired to work or perform construction on a side sewer line in the District, you will need to fill out an application to be a Bonded Contractor.  Even if you are bonded with other nearby providers (for example, the City of Bellingham), you will need to become bonded specifically with Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District to perform work in our District.  For information and instructions on becoming bonded, please visit our Bonded Contractor page.

How do I purchase a permit?

Permits are issued by appointment only.

Complete your permit application packet and return to the Lake Whatcom Water & Sewer District office.  When the permit is ready, a District representative will contact you to set up your permit intake and payment appointment.  For more information and the permitting application, please visit our Water and Sewer Permits page.

Can you recommend a plumber?

We are not able to recommend specific plumbers to our customers, however, there are many qualified plumbers in Bellingham.  If you are looking for a contractor to install a new water or sewer connection, please see our information about Bonded Contractors.

What is a Cross Connection?

A cross connection is any actual or potential physical connection between a potable (i.e., drinkable) water line and any pipe, vessel, or machine containing a non-potable fluid, solid, or gas where the non-potable substance can enter the potable water system by backflow. Garden hoses left connected and turned on when not in use can easily contaminate your home plumbing system. For questions or concerns about potential Cross Connections, please contact Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District employee Rich Munson at (360) 737-9224.

Your residence has obligations regarding cross connections.  If your residence has an in-ground irrigation system, heat pump, boiler or any other type of identified cross connection that requires a backflow prevention device, you are required to have the device inspected annually by a State Certified Backflow Assembly Tester.

Remember: a cross connection not only threatens your health and safety, but that of your neighbors and the community as a whole, so please do your part to prevent them.

Cross Connection Control – District Resolution 227