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Drinking Water

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Drinking Water Program

The Drinking Water Program Staff help to prevent water related illness.  They also help to assure that people in Whatcom County have access to an adequate quantity of safe water.  They do this through the following activities:

  • Reviewing and approving Water Availability for single family, 2-party, plat and public water for new building permits.
  • Reviewing and approving Water Availability for contaminated wells and surface water and rainwater sources.
  • Investigating suspected water related illnesses.
  • Maintaining records for over 3000 wells drilled in Whatcom County since 1990. The records include information on both water quality and quantity and helps staff to identify areas of concern.
  • Updating Drinking Water Geographic Information System (GIS) maps & databases.
  • Researching and recognizing Public Drinking Water System Wellhead Protection Areas for land use decisions via GIS.
  • Reviewing plans and providing oversight/compliance for small (Group B) public water supplies.
  • Providing community education and answering questions about safe drinking water.
  • Researching complaints from public and private water systems.
  • Updating the Coordinated Water System Plan.
  • Inspecting wells for home loans.
  • Inspecting well seals during the drilling process in cooperation with the Department of Ecology & well drillers.
  • Tagging wells in coordination with the Department of Ecology.
  • Conducting Sanitary Surveys for Group A & B Public Water Systems.
  • Planning for surface water problems (i.e. Lake Samish Blue-Green Algae).
  • Conducting well site inspections for public water systems in cooperation with the Department of Health.
  • Conducting well site inspections for all 2-Party and any plat wells during the initial plat/building permit process.
  • Reviewing variance and appeal requests.
  • Reviewing conditional use permits & binding site plans.
  • Responding to emergencies (i.e. fuel spills)

Click on the following for more information about the Drinking Water Program:

Drinking Water Records

Drinking Water Program Forms

Drinking Water Ordinance - 24.11

Certified Drinking Water Testing Labs in Whatcom County

Information on Water Testing

Private Well Disinfection Procedures

Toxic Blue-Green Algae

Maps - Wellhead Protection Areas & Public Water System Service Areas

Coordinated Water System Plan

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I locate drinking water records?
Many records are available online through our office, here. If we do not have your information on file, please email us or contact the Department of Ecology (360-715-5200) to search for a well log.

How do I get my water source approved to obtain a building permit?
You will need to go through a process called water availability approval. Please allow up to one week for a decision to be made on your approval once your completed water availability application is submitted to our office. Sometimes applicants must conduct additional testing or submit additional paperwork because of the well location. Water availability application forms for single party, shared, and public water sources are located here.

What do I need to do to have a well drilled?
The Department of Ecology is responsible for well drilling regulations and requirements. Information on drilling a well can be found here or contact a licensed well driller.

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

  • 50’ from your septic tank
  • 100’ from your drainfield
  • 100’ from any privy or outhouse
  • 50’ from a sewer line
  • 100’ from a sewage or manure lagoon
  • 1000’ from any parcel containing a landfill (active, inactive, closed, or illegal)

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?
The information and application packet are located here.

How do I find out who takes care of the public water system that serves water to my house?
Please email us at

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 and 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.

Where can I find information on water treatment systems?
Information on water treatment systems can be found on the National Sanitation Foundation’s website.

Washington State Department of Health Drinking Water Links

DOH Drinking Water Home

Group B Public Water Systems

Group B Water System Design Guidelines (#331-467)

Group B Public Water Systems Rule (#331-071)

Drinking Water Contaminants

Drinking Water Publications

Sentry Internet - Washington State Water System Data

Drinking Water Emergencies

Drinking Water in your Home (Information for Consumers)

Free Online Private Well Class