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J.E. “Sam” Ryan, CBO

5280 Northwest Drive
Bellingham, Washington 98226
Telephone: (360) 676-6907

Watershed Regulations Home


Some of the watersheds of Whatcom County are protected through special districts. These special districts are overlay zones that Map of WRIA 1 Surface Waterimpose regulatory controls that are designed to preserve and protect the unique character and long-term viability of the specific geographic areas that they have been applied to. These overlay zones are found in Title 20 of Whatcom County Code.

The overlay zones include Stormwater Special Districts, Water Resource Special Management Areas, and the Water Resource Protection Overlay District. Watersheds that are included vary by overlay zone, but at least one zone applies in Lake Whatcom, Lake Padden, Lake Samish, Birch Bay, and Drayton Harbor Watersheds.

What is a watershed?
A watershed is an area of land that contains a common network of interrelated components including wetlands, lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, floodplains, etc. that work together to move water and sediments through the landscape. Watersheds generally drain into a single body of water such as a lake, river, or an ocean.

Standards are specific to each of the watershed overlay zones and vary by watershed. In general the regulations are low impace development standards that are intended to protect a valuable resource, whether it be drinking water or aquatic habitat. For a full list of requirements and standards related to watershed please see Whatcom County Code Title 20.

Drayton Harbor WatershedBirch Bay / Drayton Harbor Watershed


Lake Padden WatershedLake Padden Watershed


Lake Samish WatershedLake Samish Watershed


Lake Whatcom WatershedLake Whatcom Watershed