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Drinking Water

Environmental Health Home

Drinking Water Home


Contact Us

Whatcom County Health Department
Drinking Water Program, Environmental Health Division
Phone: (360) 676-6724
E-mail: Environmental Health



Frequently Asked Questions

What should I test my well for?

Where do I go to get my water tested?
List of  state-certified labs for testing chemicals in water
Local  state-certified labs for testing coliform bacteria in water

What do I need to do to have a well drilled?
Contact a licensed well driller. You can find a list of licensed well drillers in the yellow pages of the phone book.

Does it matter where I drill my well on my property?
Yes, you should locate the well at least:

  • 50 feet from your septic tank
  • 100 feet from the edge of an on-site sewage system absorption field
  • 100 feet from any privy or outhouse
  • 50 feet from a sewer line
  • 100 feet from a sewage or manure lagoon
  • 1000 feet from any parcel containing an active solid waste landfill, inactive solid waste landfill, closed solid waste landfill or illegal solid waste landfill.

I want to obtain a building permit and I need to get my water source approved, how do I do that?
You will need to go through a process called water availability approval.  Contact our office for details.

How long does it take to get my water availability approved so I can get my building permit?
HHS usually can usually finish the approval process within a week of the time the completed water availability packet reaches our office.  Sometimes, applicants must conduct additional testing or must submit additional paperwork because of the well location.  This usually takes more time.

My water is making me sick, what should I do?
Stop drinking the water. If the severity of your illness concerns you, contact your health care provider.  They can help you with any necessary treatment to help get you well.  Contact our office for help in determining why the water you drank may have made you sick.

How deep will I have to drill my well?
The depth to ground water varies from area to area in Whatcom County so you will not know for certain until you drill your well.  You may get an idea by talking to a neighbor, contacting a well driller or looking on our depth of well map in our office.

What do I have to do to develop my own public water system?
Whatcom County has a coordinated water system plan that provides guidance to people who need to develop a water system.  Contact our office before you drill your well or begin drawing plans for your new water system.

How do I find out who takes care of the public water system that serves water to my house?
Contact our office. Our support staff will help you find the contact person for the public water system that serves your area.