Whatcom Co.: 90 Million Gallons of Water a Day

Permalink +

Wed, Jul 22, 2015, 12:42 am  //  Guest writer

Guest writer Eric Hirst is retired to Bellingham and enjoys using his professional abilities to benefit our community. He has a doctorate from Stanford and spent his professional career doing reports on energy issues. Deb Gaber edited Eric's 4,800 word report down to this 1,800 word article. You can read his full report via the link at the bottom of this article.  

- -  

If someone had asked me two years ago about water problems in Whatcom County, I would have offered a three-word response, “Lake Whatcom pollution.” As far as I knew, that was the only serious water problem we faced.

In early 2014, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities began a small project, WaterWork, to address freshwater supply and quality issues. At about the same time, the League of Women Voters sponsored forums on local water issues. Suddenly, I began to understand that Whatcom County faces serious problems. These problems concern water pollution, new sources of supply, efficiency of water use, fish listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act, antiquated and inadequately enforced state water laws, and so on.

Thus began a journey to understand these issues and possible solutions to our problems. The result, at this point in the journey, is the article you are (I hope!) about to read.  - Eric

- - 

Clean, affordable, and sufficient water is essential. While it may seem that Whatcom County has plenty of water, remember that this year we lost both ski events in Ski-to-Sea and the road to Artist Point opened two months earlier than usual. Will this be the new normal? Because water affects everything on this planet in one way or another, we need to better understand our water systems and problems and then move to improve them.

This article outlines how we use water and proposes a partial solution: locational and time-sensitive water pricing.

How Much Water Do We Use?

In 2010, Whatcom County used almost 33 billion gallons of water, or 90 million gallons a day. Irrigation is by far the largest water demand, using 38% of our annual total. Industry accounts for 26%; residential use is 22%; livestock takes 4%; and aquaculture, mining and commercial uses account for the remaining 10%.

There are seasonal differences in water use, too. In the summer, July through September, water use is 3.6 times greater than in the winter, November through January. This seasonal difference is driven primarily by irrigation, but residential, commercial and industrial demands are also higher in the summer. And none of these numbers consider the amount of water that must be left in-stream for navigation, fish and wildlife, recreation, aesthetics, and waste assimilation.

Then there’s the issue of supply. A little more than half - 57% - is surface water, the rest comes as groundwater from wells, all of which comes from precipitation. Bellingham averages 4.9” of rain per month in the winter, but only 1.4” a month in the summer. So, summer supply is only 29% of winter supply, but demand in summer is 357% greater than in winter.

How Much Does it Cost?

A family of four uses about 200 gallons/day, which costs about $60/month. But in fact, nobody actually pays for “water.” We pay for the pumps, pipes, treatment plants, electricity, supplies, operation and maintenance. The water is free.

Industrial rates are much lower than residential rates, primarily because while the two oil refineries and the aluminum smelter at Cherry Point use much more water, it’s lower quality. So to compare, we pay 3 cents per gallon for residential city water while industrial users at Cherry Point pay 0.14 cents per gallon.

The Big Three: Demand, Quality, and Supply

Demand:
Demand will continue to escalate due to population growth and climate change. Historical trends and official forecasts predict a Whatcom County population growth of 1.1% a year for the next 30 years, or almost 84,000 more people.

Air temperatures will continue to escalate due to greenhouse-gas emissions and that, in turn, will not only drive up water temperatures, but increase outdoor use as well. Increasing temperatures will also continue to shrink glaciers and reduce snowfall on Mt. Baker, reducing Nooksack River flows, diminishing fish runs and causing water shortages and droughts. U.S. Geological Survey measurements show a 27% reduction of summer flows in the Nooksack River between 1963 and 2003. Finally, as other areas in the U.S. experience less rainfall and more frequent drought, their residents will increasingly move to the Pacific Northwest, further driving population growth in our area.

In addition, if the proposed coal-export terminal at Cherry Point is built, water consumption could increase by 2 billion gallons a year, roughly 5% of our current total water use.

Quality:
At the same time, Whatcom County’s water quality is deteriorating. Streams and bays are polluted with fecal coliform bacteria from failing septic tanks, livestock, and wild animals. Storm-water runoff contains toxic metals, petroleum, herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers from farms and homes. According to the Department of Ecology, the Sumas-Blaine aquifer has “some of the most widespread and elevated nitrate contamination in the state.” And increasing water use only worsens water-pollution problems.

Supply:
Compounding the problems with demand and quality, our supply of water is over-extended, illegally used and mostly unmeasured.

“Most water in the Nooksack watershed is already legally spoken for,” according to the Washington State Department of Ecology. “Increasing demands for water from ongoing population growth, diminishing surface water supplies, declining groundwater levels in some areas during peak use periods, and the impacts of climate change limit Ecology’s ability to issue new water rights in this watershed.”

Lummi Nation and the Nooksack Indian Tribe also have legal claims to water. Treaty rights from 1855, perhaps to “time immemorial,” guarantee them the right to harvest salmon—which require clean, cool water. Yet summer flows in the Nooksack River and many of its tributaries are already below the minimum requirements set by Ecology: “From 1986 to 2009, flows in the Nooksack River failed to meet in-stream flow-rule requirements 72% of the time during the July-September flow period.”

Additionally, as much as 70% of agricultural water use in Whatcom County violates state law. Because agriculture accounts for 65% of summer use, bringing farmers into compliance is a major issue. A report for the Bertrand Watershed Improvement District in Lynden noted, “… non-permitted water use is one of the most pressing water resource management issues for the area.” Also, the city of Lynden uses more water than it has a legal right to use and “326 public water systems do not have water rights.” As Lynden grows, this problem will worsen.

One of the biggest complications is that much of the water in Whatcom County is not metered, recorded, or reported. Without reliable data on consumption, it will be challenging to resolve water-supply problems because, even with improvements, we won’t know if more efficient systems are working. According to Washington’s Department of Health, “Installing meters is the most important step you can take to establish an effective WUE [Water Use Efficiency] program.”

Possible Solutions

Water quality and use is controlled by federal, state, tribal, and local jurisdictions. State water laws identify problems and mandate solutions. County governments regulate land use and oversee public health issues of water quality and septic systems. Municipal governments and local water districts/associations operate water utilities. The courts are also certain to be involved, particularly regarding the 1855 Native American treaty rights.

Because these issues are complicated and longstanding, solutions will likely be expensive, controversial, and multifaceted. They may require new land use regulation as well as greater enforcement of water consumption and pollution laws. Below is a list of possible solutions.

  • The county’s growth-management regulations could restrict development in areas that have problems with water supply and/or quality, or require mitigation.
  • The county could improve its alignment of agricultural zoning with soil quality and water availability.
  • It could strengthen existing water-quality and land-use regulations by requiring professional inspections of septic-systems. It could ensure better control of fertilizers and manure by keeping livestock away from creeks and rivers.
  • Municipal governments and the county could improve storm-water management with stricter limits on impervious surfaces, and provide greater protection for critical areas such as flood zones, aquifer recharge areas, wetlands, and wildlife habitat and migration corridors.
  • Cities and water districts/associations could modify rates to encourage efficiency. The city of Lynden already has a $150 penalty for “waste of water.”
  • Cities could add surcharges to help pay for solutions. Bellingham charges every single-family home $12 a month to help buy land in the Lake Whatcom watershed.
  • Water utilities could offer residential, commercial, and industrial customers help becoming more efficient in the same way electric utilities have done for decades.
  • Because the public owns the water, it would be reasonable to tax its use to promote efficiency, raise revenue for water projects, improve data on consumption, and increase public awareness. A tax, and the discussion it will generate, will signal that water is critical, scarce and must be used wisely. And taxing water reduces the need for regulation because market forces spur efficiency.

A countywide charge of 0.01 cent per gallon during the summer—less than $3 a year for the typical Whatcom County family—would generate $1.5 million a year. It would be less than a 1% rate increase for large industrial customers. The agricultural sector would pay about $1 million a year, which is less than 1% of the value of our agricultural products.

The Benefits

Higher water prices will encourage users to make capital improvements and behavioral changes to increase efficiency and reduce pressure on supply. Low-flow toilets and front-loading washing machines are more expensive to buy but use one to two-thirds less water than their conventional counterparts.

Seasonal water pricing will encourage homeowners to conserve, watering their lawns less often, for shorter times, and before 10 a.m. or after 10 p.m., to encourage better water absorption.

Farmers, faced with price increases, will irrigate more efficiently. Watering will become more precise: timed and controlled to minimize evaporation and runoff and applied closer to the plants to maximize absorption by crops and soil.

Conclusions

Whatcom County has serious water supply and quality problems that are complicated, interactive, and long-term. As population grows and the supply of clean water continues to decline, in part because of global climate change, these problems will likely get worse. We cannot think of water as infinite and inexhaustible. Its supply is fixed and its quality must be protected and improved. This will require new policies, programs, and regulation from all levels of government as well as the keen awareness of every consumer. Taxing each gallon of water consumed would help resolve these problems.

A tax would signal that water is a scarce resource that must be used efficiently. It would provide important market signals regarding when and where to consume water and when and where to conserve. Metering use would provide valuable information on where, how, and when water is used in Whatcom County, allowing us to develop better policies and programs to not only preserve supply, but also improve quality. Finally, it would encourage greater efficiency during critical summer months, which is a value in its own right as a “resource” that could be used when Lummi and Nooksack rights to minimum in-stream flows are determined. It would facilitate formation of local water markets, and revenues collected could help solve local water problems.

Related Links:

-> Full original article with 4 appendixes
-> Appendix A - Water Use
-> Appendix B - Nooksack Summer Flows
-> Appendix C - Water Markets
-> Appendix D - Summer Water Tax

David Camp  //  Wed, Jul 22, 2015, 8:06 am

Very informative and thought-provoking article. Thank you!


Walter Haugen  //  Wed, Jul 22, 2015, 12:48 pm

I generally support Eric Hirst and the organizations he represents. However, I must take issue with some of his points. Those of you who read my public posts will find my arguments familiar.
1) The generally accepted number for per capita domestic use is 100 gallons per day, not 200 for a family of four. I don’t see Whatcom County as different and less water-wasteful than the rest of the US. There is a remarkable degree of homogeneity across the wide band of American activities.
2) The generally accepted number for groundwater consumption for agriculture in the US is 80%, although sometimes it is listed as “80%, with up to 90% in the western states.” Again, I don’t see Whatcom County as that much different from the rest of the US and the cooler temperatures in the western half of the state argue for 80% here, even though it might be 90% in Omak, Wenatchee, Walla Walla and the other areas with high irrigation use for orchards.
3) These two numbers that I just mentioned are how I calculate comparisons between my irrigation use and that of industrial agriculture. The method for industrial agriculture is simple. We cannot know, because of bad USDA statistics and downright lies, whether the US is a net importer or exporter of food. The safest assumption is that we are in the middle (reducing error on both ends), and we produce enough food in this country to feed all US residents. Therefore 100 gallons domestic use at 5% is 1/16th of agriculture at 80%. Thus my number for industrial agriculture is 1600 gallons per person per day. This is calculated for a whole year and thus evens out seasonal differences. Domestic use is also based on a whole year, with summer irrigation evened out and toilet use (the biggest waster) the same throughout the year.
4) My irrigation use is based on my own data and consists of 1800 gallons a day for 90 days (June, July, August). Since I grow enough food in a normal year to feed 2.5 people, based on kilocalorie yield, this calculates to:
1800 gal. x 90 days / 2.5 people per year / 365 days per year = 177.5 gallons per person per day
Rounding up to be conservative (a 12.5% error), let’s just call it 200 gallons per person per day.
5) As you can see there is a VAST difference between my small-scale farming model and industrial agriculture, by a factor of 8! This is one of the reasons I wrote two books on postmodern farming and solutions for collapse.
6) This is why I have been regularly lambasting Eric and Futurewise for lumping me and other small scale farmers in the same bag as industrial berry farmers, dairy farmers, chicken growers and the like. It is like comparing me to Sherman Polinder because I have an unregulated well WITHOUT holding Sherman reponsible for water waste, polluting streams and illegally taking water out of the Nooksack. It is like putting me in the same sack with Henry Bierlink.
7) I will not be satisfied until writers on water issues make a concerted effort to DIFFERENTIATE between small-scale, alternative farmers and industrial agriculture. When you talk about unregulated wells in the county as the same as taking water illegally out of the Nooksack, you do your own cause a great disservice.
8) Pitting the cityfolks against the countryfolks does no good. I work hard to develop alternatives and when I see the “cityfolk” displaying simplistic reasoning and lack of respect for the work I do in the soil every day, I will not support initiatives from these same disrespectful people.
9) There is QUITE a difference between “water quality and use controlled by federal, state, tribal and local jurisdictions,” and “Because the public owns the water, it would be reasonable to tax its use.” On the one hand, the federal/state/tribal/local jurisdictions “control” water because they can. They do this through institutionalized violence. When Eric wants to close down my well because it is unregulated, he doesn’t come out with a gun himself, he just uses the system to send out the sheriff.

Now, just because the state or county controls me does NOT mean that my water belongs to the public. It doesn’t. The state lays claim to water from my well because they have the guns and the will to use them. I am at their mercy, so I go along with it. That does NOT mean that I like it. It also means that I am not going to support a group or a person who conflates me with dairy and berry farmers who are despoiling the landscape and waterways while making lots of money. Meanwhile, I go on every day creating alternatives so your grandchildren can survive. A little respect is in order here.


Terry Wechsler  //  Wed, Jul 22, 2015, 4:40 pm

Walter,
Please don’t confuse all of us “city folk.” Some of us understand the difference between agricultural (read: those growing the food we would want to eat and actually do eat) and industrial (read: that which is mass produced primarily for export) production. We can’t talk about responsible water use vis-a’-vis MIF without acknowledging the difference. Whatcom Watch has done our best to explain the issue. E.g., + Link We will continue to do so.


Sherilyn Wells  //  Wed, Jul 22, 2015, 6:13 pm

The passage of time has obviously not dampened the ardor with which this issue is debated.  There are some emerging solutions that bear investigating:  Paul Stamets, a Washington-based mycologist, may be revolutionizing the world of water quality.  In a wide-ranging talk on TED, he describes ongoing experiments using bundles of storm debris (inoculated with specific fungi) which are placed along streams, edges of lakes, etc., and which demonstrate a dramatic ability to clean up certain types of pollution, including eColi.  To watch his talk, go to + Link .  He begins describing the water quality experiment about Minute 9:45.

Here is how Paul describes what his fungi can do:  “Mycorestoration is the use of fungi to help repair or restore ecologically harmed and sensitive habitats. It encompasses the use of fungi for filtration of water (mycofiltration), the breakdown of toxic wastes (mycoremediation), empowering ecoforestry strategies (mycoforestry) and helping to influence and control pest insect populations (mycopesticides).

It’s time to invoke Einstein’s observation - “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” - and look into the cutting-edge discoveries that could begin the healing of our irreplaceable water resources..  If you agree, contact local government - city and county - and insist they investigate this new “technology.”  We may not be able to undo the bad, shortsighted decisions of the past, but we just might have a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card with this new approach.


Walter Haugen  //  Wed, Jul 22, 2015, 6:59 pm

Terry - Yes we need to differentiate, all across the board. One quibble. Industrial agriculture is not just export-driven. It is defined by overuse of fossil fuels. Most so-called “family farms” are industrial ag.
Sherilyn - Yes, Paul Stamets’ work is important and a viable solution for cleanup at the Port to take care of GP’s mess. I believe an experiment was already done several years ago. Of course the only candidate for Port Commissioner who even considers these kinds of solutions is Lloyd Zimmerman.


Eric Hirst  //  Thu, Jul 23, 2015, 8:29 pm

I thank Walter Haugen for taking the time to write detailed and thoughtful comments on my local-water-issues article.

Some of Walter’s comments concern data. He and I likely agree that we lack data for two key sets of water users in Whatcom County: agriculture and exempt-well owners. The numbers I presented for agriculture cover the entire sector, both the small-scale farms that Walter favors and the larger, more industrial farms that dominate the industry. The numbers, all estimates, come from the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, and Whatcom Farm Friends. None of these sources disaggregates water use by agricultural subsector.

Some of Walter’s comments deal with policy, not necessarily related to what I covered in the article. Although I agree that we should refine our understanding, estimates, and data on different kinds of farms, I’m not sure how to do that. Perhaps Walter can enlighten us on that point.

Finally, some of Walter’s comments strike me as unfair and unproductive. I have no desire to “close down” Walter’s (or anybody else’s) well, nor have I ever suggested that exempt wells are “the same as taking water illegally.” Where, Walter did you dig up these incorrect statements?


Walter Haugen  //  Fri, Jul 24, 2015, 7:24 pm

Okay Eric, let’s Google “Futurewise exempt wells.” When I do this I get the following article as the first hit: + Link Settlement [Disclaimer: Google searches are tailored to your interests, so if you repeat this, you may get a different article as the lead, but you should be able to get in in the top 20, I should think.] This was a “landmark water rights settlement,” signed on May 15, 2014 by Futurewise, Kittitas County, the Washington State Department of Ecology, RIDGE, and the Kittitas County Conservation Association. It “mitigates impacts of over a century of development without considering whether the water is available to support the homes, farms, and businesses in the Kittitas County part of the Yakima Basin.” The article went on to say, “Futurewise is pleased with this landmark agreement, which leverages sound planning and promotes a strong future for the community, farmers, its economy and the environment,” said Hilary Franz, Executive Director of Futurewise. “Many other areas of our state – like Whatcom and Snohomish – face similar water allocation issues that threaten the long-term health of their communities.  The approach developed here should serve as a model for communities looking for creative solutions to water resource management.”

Okay, here we have a settlement that is based on “mitigation” and is to be used as a model in Whatcom County. This settlement brought together various parties such as the State Department of Ecology, Futurewise, RIDGE, the Kittitas Conservation Coalition, and the Kittitas County Farm Bureau. In other words it brought together various parties from across the political spectrum. If you are suspicious of anything to do with government, wary of misuse of mitigation (both in word and deed) and are leery of “models” that reify a term or concept so that it channels time, money and energy in the wrong direction, all of your red flags should have gone up.

First off, “mitigation” is a flawed concept because it is based on the “least bad” alternative. It assumes we cannot have a “good” or “positive” solution. Examples are geoengineering to battle climate change, salvage archaeology, and FEMA actions in disasters. Not only is the word poorly understood by most people, it focuses energy on short-term solutions instead of 1) preventing the problem, 2) integrating long-term and middle-range solutions into a proper response, and 3) dismisses adaptation. It also suffers from reification, treating an abstract concept as a thing, which then assumes a life of its own. Soon it becomes a catchword, like “markets” or “the invisible hand,” and other such nonsense. We might also want to consider why conservative power lobbies, like the Farm Bureau, are willing to get into bed with Futurewise on this issue. [Note: There is a good reason I spent considerable time on reification in my first book. It is a pernicious concept.]

Further digging provides the answer. This settlement solidifies an earlier concept that came out of Kitsap County called “hydraulic continuity.” Here is a link to an Issue Paper from 1997: + Link and the first paragraph:
“This issue paper examines Hydraulic Continuity, “the interconnection between ground water (aquifers) and surface water sources.” An aquifer is in hydraulic continuity with wetlands, lakes, streams, rivers or other surface water bodies whenever it is discharging to these water bodies. Continuity also exists when an aquifer is being recharged by surface water. Hydraulically connected ground water and surface water cannot be considered as independent resources. A withdrawal from one will have some effect on the other” (Draft Hydraulic Continuity Policy Paper, The Water Resources Forum). Under RCW 90.44, hydraulic continuity is described as any underground water that is “part of or tributary to the source of any stream or lake.” Any activities that impact recharge to ground water (e.g., changes to infiltration, evapotranspiration, or runoff), may have an impact on hydraulically connected surface water.”

The idea here is that the state owns all the water and they graciously allow us peasants to have some once in awhile. Of course, to control this resource, we have to have multiple layers of bureaucracy, which nickels and dimes people to death. Just pounding down a sand point and attaching a pitcher pump so you can have free water is not allowed. [The first time I did this was in 1971, by the way, when us dirty hippie commie pinkos were homesteading in northern Minnesota.]

Of course, Futurewise constantly asserts that we need “planning” because we don’t have enough water to go around. However, what they DON’T do is go after the real culprits here - senior water rights. In other words, Futurewise is complicit in a settlement that goes after new exempt wells while allowing senior water rights to continue - even though the senior water rights are the problem! Instead of going after the REAL criminals that are polluting the air, water, and soil, they focus on bit players like those who want to put down a straw into an aquifer on their own land so they can have a nice home life and maybe raise some food.

Of course, Eric and Futurewise will point to the grandfather clause that allows present users to keep their exempt wells (like myself), but the concept of hydraulic continuity shows how easily they can change course in the future. For those of you with a legal bent, this is the slippery slope argument, but Hey! if the Supreme Court can use it, so can I. To my mind it is a real worry.

In the long term, Eric and Futurewise suffer from some implicit assumptions that don’t hold up.
1) We need planning and so must submit to it. This is a false assumption because we can all see how “planning” is constantly corrupted by those with money to influence the process.
2) The state-level society we live in will continue forever and so we must submit to centralized political processes where the state owns basic resources. This is a false assumption, as the way of the world is breakdown of states, rise of the deep state all over the world, breakdown of states into clan-based regional polities (Libya, Syria), and a slow-moving collapse.
3) Holding the line with what we’ve got is NOT a solution. I don’t see Futurewise actually pressing for alternatives. If they were, they would be targeting the real criminals in Whatcom County - the dairy farmers who take water illegally and pollute the Nooksack and the neighboring aquifers and soil.

There are all kinds of problems with dairy. I grew up on a farm in southern Minnesota and we had 25 milkers and 10-15 head of youngstock on 173 acres. Contrast that sustainable model with a modern dairy farm in Whatcom with 400 head of milkers on 40 acres. In order to get the water they have to exceed their legal rights. In order to get rid of their toxic manure, they have to spread it all over the county and it makes its way into the watersheds. Futurewise would be better suited to target the 10 worst dairy farmers and drive them out of business. Muddying the waters by focusing on exempt wells is just adding insult to injury.


Walter Haugen  //  Sat, Jul 25, 2015, 10:50 am

Okay, for those of you who don’t want to wade through my response to Eric and the ongoing problem of contamination of streams, bays, and aquifers, let me make it REAL simple.

1) If you want to fix a problem, you have to first stop doing what created the problem.
2) Dairy farmers are polluting the Nooksack, the Bays and the aquifers with manure.
3) Dairy farmers are taking water illegally out of the Nooksack and the aquifers.
4) Senior water rights keep this bad old system in place.
5) Settlements and agreements that reinforce senior water rights are not solutions.

Solutions:
1) Stop all subsidies. This will drive most of the dairy farmers out of business.
2) Require all manure to stay on the farm where it was produced. This will drive the rest of the dairy farmers out of business.
3) Require polluting industries to pay for ALL costs of cleanup and treatment.
4) Stop ALL agricultural property tax exemptions. (Our tax bill will increase too but it is for the greater good.)
5) Stop ALL dairy exports to China and the rest of the world.

Ya get it? The main solution is to STOP the negative business practices.

One more thing. If an environmentalist tells you that you can have a cleaner world without a major depression that makes the Great Depression look like the Roaring Twenties, he/she is lying to you. YOU the consumer will have to take a major hit to your cushy, wasteful lifestyle if you want a clean world. No matter how many liberals and progressives tell you we can all have a comfortable lifestyle and still get off fossil fuels, they are LYING. This is known as astroturfing - appearing to be green and natural when just the opposite is the case.


Terry Wechsler  //  Sat, Jul 25, 2015, 1:20 pm

I agree with Walter. I don’t understand all the details to the extent that he does, but everything that I have learned supports his conclusions.
Terry


Whatcom Co.: 90 Million Gallons of Water a Day

Wed, Jul 22, 2015, 12:42 am  //  Guest writer

Eric Hirst provides us all with a well researched report on Whatcom County water issues - rights, Lake Whatcom, ground water and more.

9 comments; last on Jul 25, 2015

County proposes free pass for vacation rentals

Sun, Apr 26, 2015, 2:05 pm  //  Guest writer

Tani Sutley writes a second article on the increasing number of vacation rentals - and the County Council bill to let them expand dramatically.

4 comments; last on May 02, 2015


The Last Lessons of Dr. David T. Mason

Sat, Mar 21, 2015, 11:16 am  //  Guest writer

Kamalla Kaur worked with David Mason on his biographical materials and offers this tribute to his illustrious life.

2 comments; last on Mar 23, 2015

The Hidden Election

Mon, Feb 02, 2015, 9:34 am  //  Guest writer

No ballot mailed to you. You must request a ballot for voting in the Whatcom Conservation District election. Deadline to apply is Feb 9. By Barbara Perry

0 comments

The Pickett House Museum

Sun, Jan 25, 2015, 12:32 pm  //  Guest writer

Adventures of George Pickett in the Pacific Northwest Wilderness

5 comments; last on Jan 28, 2015

The Annexation Games

Tue, Jan 20, 2015, 3:07 am  //  Guest writer

Guest article by Sandra Alfers. Water and sewer connections drive unwanted annexation. Trickle Creek homeowners are muzzled by a "no protest zone."

1 comments; last on Jan 20, 2015

A Walk With Hope

Sun, Jan 18, 2015, 10:14 pm  //  Guest writer

Ellen Murphy gives us a poem for this Martin Luther King day of remembrance.

2 comments; last on Jan 21, 2015

Lodging Goals for Whatcom County

Thu, Jan 08, 2015, 2:54 pm  //  Guest writer

Tani Sutley guest writes about the vacation rentals situation and presents goals for the county council to consider for improving our rural neighborhoods.

1 comments; last on Jan 10, 2015

Water is Valuable

Wed, Dec 31, 2014, 1:16 am  //  Guest writer

Duuhhh! Try doing without it. Marian Beddill provides an overview of our rural Whatcom County water situation and the efforts to find fair solutions.

3 comments; last on Jan 08, 2015

Whatcom County and the New Sharing Economy

Tue, Dec 09, 2014, 2:25 am  //  Guest writer

Tani Sutley writes of how unregulated vacation rentals are invading the Lake Whatcom watershed. She urges action before the Planning Commission meeting on 11 December.

4 comments; last on Jan 03, 2015

Satpal Sidhu, Candidate for State Representative, 42nd District

Tue, Sep 30, 2014, 8:00 am  //  Guest writer

Wherein a Fulbright scholar, professional engineer and successful business owner files for public office

4 comments; last on Oct 02, 2014

You can’t fight city hall: city hall doesn’t fight fair

Fri, Aug 22, 2014, 2:06 pm  //  Guest writer

Patrick McKee of the Sunnyland Neighborhood guest-writes about the August 11 City Council slap-dash zoning changes.

2 comments; last on Aug 23, 2014

Devil In the Details

Sat, Aug 16, 2014, 3:48 pm  //  Guest writer

Judith Green of the Sunnyland Neighborhood guest writes this brief summary of what went wrong with the planning last week.

1 comments; last on Aug 22, 2014

Reliable Prosperity

Thu, Aug 14, 2014, 3:13 pm  //  Guest writer

Sandy Robson guest writes of the need for real prosperity at Cherry Point, not a destructive short term coal port that destroys the fishing grounds.

5 comments; last on Oct 02, 2014

Sunnyland Planning Process Explained - Partially

Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 10:47 pm  //  Guest writer

Guest writer Mike Rostron explains how Bellingham city planners played loose and illegal with planning processes.

0 comments

What Landlords Need to Know about Rental Registration

Mon, Jul 21, 2014, 5:30 am  //  Guest writer

Landlords are so caught up opposing a licensing and inspection ordinance, they cannot see the upside for them in ridding the city of bad rentals.

19 comments; last on Aug 01, 2014

Sunnyland Deja Vu

Fri, Jul 18, 2014, 1:24 pm  //  Guest writer

Judith Green explains how the Bellingham Planning Department is trying to cram their plan onto a neighborhood.

5 comments; last on Jul 21, 2014

Manifest Clandestine-y

Mon, Jul 07, 2014, 5:04 am  //  Guest writer

Guest writer Sandy Robson breaks the story of officials from Washington treated to a coal-promoting junket to Wyoming.

2 comments; last on Jul 13, 2014

A Question of Freedom

Fri, Jul 04, 2014, 5:00 am  //  Guest writer

Ferndale's most famous landmark is frequently commented on and is often in the news. Here is their side of the story.

4 comments; last on Jul 07, 2014

Sins of Omission

Fri, Jun 27, 2014, 9:01 pm  //  Guest writer

In the Weekly, Tim Johnson left out three words in quoting Craig Cole - and his story misleads readers. Guest article by Sandy Robson.

11 comments; last on Jul 01, 2014

The Road to Perdition

Sun, Jun 01, 2014, 12:39 am  //  Guest writer

A Venn diagram where coal, the Endangered Species Act, Republicans, and Wyoming’s Board of Education collide.

2 comments; last on Jun 02, 2014

Feint, Calumny, Solidarity

Wed, May 28, 2014, 3:15 pm  //  Guest writer

A perspective by guest writer Ellen Murphy reflects on the Whatcom Watch and the threatened law suit by Craig Cole.

22 comments; last on Jun 01, 2014

Montana & Wyoming to WA: Permit Coal Export Terminals… Or Else

Thu, May 22, 2014, 12:10 am  //  Guest writer

Wyoming is ready to try and legally force us to limit our environmental scoping for the Cherry Point coal terminal

4 comments; last on Jun 17, 2014

Move To Amend - Persons vs Corporations

Thu, May 01, 2014, 10:21 pm  //  Guest writer

Move to Amend is a national movement to amend the U.S. Constitution and define persons as people and speech as not money.

7 comments; last on Jun 02, 2014

Assault

Sun, Apr 06, 2014, 4:29 pm  //  Guest writer

By Christopher Grannis: Wherein despite every effort and expense, citizens cannot make the City follow the law or work for neighborhoods

2 comments; last on Apr 07, 2014

Wendy Harris Receives deArmond Award for Citizen Journalism

Wed, Jan 29, 2014, 7:18 am  //  Guest writer

Tim Johnson writes about the first recipient of the Paul deArmond Citizen Journalism award, Whatcom County writer Wendy Harris.

3 comments; last on Feb 08, 2014

Port’s Alternative Marina Analysis a Scam

Tue, Jan 14, 2014, 3:19 pm  //  Guest writer

Do we actually need to say that we, as citizens, want accurate information from government officials?

1 comments; last on Jan 14, 2014

City too Poor for Power Pennies or Discrimination?

Fri, Dec 27, 2013, 5:00 am  //  Guest writer

Guest writer Barbara Perry writes about Bellingham Parks refusal to allow motorized wheel chairs to recharge at public electrical outlets.

6 comments; last on Jan 03, 2014

Larrabee School; Its Future

Mon, Dec 09, 2013, 1:24 pm  //  Guest writer

Barbara Perry writes about the closed nature of the Bellingham School Board on the future of the Larrabee School.

1 comments; last on Dec 15, 2013

Smoking Gun: Fraud and Deception

Mon, Nov 18, 2013, 3:18 pm  //  Guest writer

In which we find the hidden core of the waterfront plan is rotten through and through

7 comments; last on Nov 21, 2013

Anatomy of a Development Proposal - Part IV Geology, Stormwater, Wetlands and Watershed

Mon, Jul 15, 2013, 9:08 am  //  Guest writer

The proposed development ought not proceed without a more extensive geological assessment and a thorough evaluation of the impacts on the Lincoln Creek watershed.

0 comments

Anatomy of a Development Proposal - Part III University Ridge - Where Do I Park?

Mon, Jul 08, 2013, 1:30 pm  //  Guest writer

Ambling University Development has substantially underestimated the role of the car in the lives of its eventual student renters and their visitors.

2 comments; last on Jul 09, 2013

Anatomy of a Development Proposal - Part II Predictions of Dormitory Traffic Impacts Unrealistic

Wed, Jul 03, 2013, 12:02 pm  //  Guest writer

The traffic analysis for the University Ridge dormitory development in the Puget Neighborhood lacks realistic data and leads to incorrect conclusions that the city must address.

2 comments; last on Jul 04, 2013

Safeguard the Southfork

Fri, May 31, 2013, 12:01 am  //  Guest writer

Jeffrey Margolis urges us to request the Nooksack South Fork Valley be included in the Coal Port environmental study.

3 comments; last on Jun 02, 2013

Our Water - War or Pieces?

Fri, May 24, 2013, 1:18 am  //  Guest writer

Marian Beddill provides a general guide for the public, with a look at the history of water rights in Washington state.

4 comments; last on May 26, 2013

Demonically Possessed Slaughter Crazed Ideologues Wrecking Rural Whatcom

Wed, May 22, 2013, 11:12 am  //  Guest writer

By Guest Writer Nicole Brown. This is a call to action for county citizens as the county tries to ram through the slaughterhouse rezones.

7 comments; last on May 26, 2013

In Memory of Paul deArmond

Mon, May 06, 2013, 2:40 am  //  Guest writer

Paul deArmond is remembered by his sister Claire. He was a Republican-at-Large.

2 comments; last on May 08, 2013

Help Save Larrabee Elementary School

Sat, May 04, 2013, 1:09 pm  //  Guest writer

Wendy Scherrer reminds all who support modest sized grade schools to try and attend the meeting Wed, May 8, in the evening.

3 comments; last on May 11, 2013

Closing Arguments in Defense of the Reconveyance

Mon, Mar 11, 2013, 7:37 am  //  Guest writer

Guest writer Shane Roth writes in favor of the reconveyance of Lake Whatcom land back to the county.

1 comments; last on Mar 11, 2013

Again, we must “vote for the forest”.........or should we?

Fri, Mar 08, 2013, 1:54 am  //  Guest writer

Delaine Clizbe guest writes. Whatcom County has 7,100 acres of park land, with 1,900 acres actually developed. Yet we keep adding land, and not developing our parks.

16 comments; last on Mar 12, 2013

The Big Picture on Chuckanut Ridge

Sun, Feb 03, 2013, 4:05 pm  //  Guest writer

Nicholas Zaferatos explains why he is concerned about the park district and looks at the long and short term views if the issue.

11 comments; last on Feb 06, 2013

Chuckanut Mountains and the Park District

Fri, Feb 01, 2013, 4:16 pm  //  Guest writer

Dr. Gibb explains some history to the issue in a brief article.

8 comments; last on Feb 03, 2013

Former Park Directors Against Park District Proposal

Thu, Jan 31, 2013, 1:36 pm  //  Guest writer

Paul Leuthold and Byron Elmendorf explain why to vote NO on the Chuckanut Park District ballot measure.

19 comments; last on Feb 12, 2013

It Is Not a Vote to Save The Forest

Thu, Jan 31, 2013, 1:26 am  //  Guest writer

Guest post by long time south side resident Marci (Hanson) Haskell on why to vote no on the Park District

5 comments; last on Feb 01, 2013

Wise Owl Knows What to Do

Tue, Jan 29, 2013, 6:25 pm  //  Guest writer

Bill Geyer explains Transfer Development Rights and how they can be applied to the Chuckanut Ridge.

17 comments; last on Feb 06, 2013

Why to vote NO on proposed Park District

Sat, Jan 26, 2013, 9:18 pm  //  Guest writer

Phyllis McKee on why to oppose and the importance of voting no if you are against the Park District.

13 comments; last on Jan 29, 2013

Beautiful Park

Sat, Jan 26, 2013, 12:49 pm  //  Guest writer

Dan Remsen speaks to the beauty of the Chuckanut Park and why to vote for the Park District.

6 comments; last on Feb 05, 2013

Prop 1: New Parks District is Wrong Approach

Thu, Jan 24, 2013, 10:49 am  //  Guest writer

By Bill Geyer. South Bellingham citizens vote over the next couple weeks on a self tax to form a park district and pay the Chuckanut Ridge debt.

30 comments; last on Jan 31, 2013

Why Vote for Five Port Commissioners

Tue, Oct 02, 2012, 12:07 am  //  Guest writer

Harriet Spanel and Ken Hertz on why we should vote YES to increase the Port of Bellingham to 5 commissioners.

3 comments; last on Oct 05, 2012

Is Bellingham Home Fund Deeply Flawed

Fri, Sep 28, 2012, 9:45 am  //  Guest writer

Jack Petree, guest writer, points out serious flaws in Bellingham Prop 1, the Home Fund, that is intended to help the poor get housing.

18 comments; last on Dec 02, 2012

Our Right to Decide?

Mon, Aug 20, 2012, 7:24 pm  //  Guest writer

David Maas, a retired college prof, asks why the city of Bellingham is supposedly powerless to stop the development of a private project that will reshape our community?

5 comments; last on Aug 26, 2012

Bellingham Community Rights vs. Corporate Rights

Fri, Aug 17, 2012, 10:21 am  //  Guest writer

Suzanne Ravet, a member of Coal-Free Bellingham, explains why she supports the Bellingham Community Bill of Rights

2 comments; last on Aug 22, 2012

The Road to Nowhere Can Go Forward

Tue, Apr 24, 2012, 1:02 am  //  Guest writer

Developers are gaming the system with help from the county government - and big changes are made in multiple small changes.

1 comments; last on Apr 27, 2012

Growth, Sprawl & Infill:  Padden Trails Project

Fri, Apr 06, 2012, 8:16 am  //  Guest writer

Ken Mann writes a guest article of his personal support for the Padden Trails development inside the Bellingham city limits.

3 comments; last on Apr 07, 2012

Padden Trails Provides Infill

Mon, Mar 19, 2012, 1:07 am  //  Guest writer

Guest writer Bill Geyer, who is the consultant for the Padden Trails Development, presents facts and perspective on the development.

34 comments; last on Apr 16, 2012

Sunnyland neighborhood asks for support

Thu, Mar 15, 2012, 2:11 pm  //  Guest writer

By guest writer Mike Rostron. Sunnyland residents support infill but not overfill. The old Department of Transportation site on Sunset is the development site.

40 comments; last on Mar 19, 2012

Padden Trails is Chuckanut Ridge Lite

Wed, Feb 22, 2012, 2:04 am  //  Guest writer

Yet another neighborhood wants the Planning Department to protect public health, safety, and general welfare

6 comments; last on Feb 24, 2012

Squalicum Mountain development gets favors from county

Sat, Feb 18, 2012, 4:03 pm  //  Guest writer

No EIS - no real county planning concern about developing Squalicum Mountain and degrading Lake Whatcom water even further.

0 comments

The Big Business of Breast Cancer

Wed, Feb 08, 2012, 10:14 am  //  Guest writer

There’s no profit in searching for causes, and we know there's no real cure. But there's big money in the detection and treatment of breast cancer.

2 comments; last on Feb 11, 2012

CameraGate:  Red-light safety or city revenue?

Mon, Nov 21, 2011, 2:00 am  //  Guest writer

With budget woes, Bellingham passes on safety in favor of cash. Starting in 2008, Bellingham officials were coached by ATS on how to get Red Light cameras through…

26 comments; last on Nov 30, 2011

 

Election Info

County Candidate Filings

State Elections Website
Whatcom County Elections

Coal, Oil & Trains

Coal Stop

Community Wise Bham
Noisy Waters
Powder River Basin R. C.

Local Blogs & News

Bellingham Herald

Bham Business Journal
Bham Politics & Econ
Bhm Herald Politics Blog
Cascadia Weekly
Ferndale Record
Friends of Whatcom
Get Whatcom Planning
KGMI
Latte Republic
League of Women Voters
Lynden Tribune
MikeatthePort
Northern Light
Sweeney Politics
Twilight Zoning
Western Front - WWU
Whatcom Watch

Local Causes

Chuckanut C. Forest

City Club of Bellingham
Conservation NW
Futurewise - Whatcom
Lake Whatcom
Lummi Island Quarry
N. Cascades Audubon
NW Holocaust Center
RE Sources
Salish Sea Org.
Save the Granary
Transition Whatcom
WA Conservation Voters
Whatcom Peace & Justice

Governments

Bellingham

Port of Bellingham
Skagit County
State Elections Website
US - The White House
WA State Access
WA State Elections
WA State Legislature
Whatcom Auditor
Whatcom County

Weather & Climate

Cliff Mass Weather Blog

Climate Audit
Nat Hurricane Center
NW Radar
Two day forecast
Watts Up With That?

Leisure

Adventures NW

Edge of Sports
Entertainment NNW
Famous Internet Skiers
Recreation Northwest
Sailing Anarchy

Good Web Sites

Al-Jazeera online

Alaska Dispatch
AlterNet.org
Antiwar.com
Arab News
Asia Times
Atlantic, The
Change The Mascot
Common Dreams
counterpunch
Crosscut Seattle
Daily Kos
Daily Mirror
Doonesbury
Drudge Report
FiveThirtyEight
Foreign Policy in Focus
GlobalPost
Guardian Unlimited
Gulf News
Haaretz
Huffington Post
Innocence Project
Irish Times
James Fallows
Jerusalem Post
Joel Connelly
Juan Cole
Julia Ioffe/New Republic
Le Diplo
Media Matters
Michael Moore
Middle East Times
MoveOn.org
Nation, The
New American Century
News Trust
NMFA
numbers
Online Journal
Palestine Daily
Palestine News
Paul Krugman
Personal bio info
Portland Indy Media
Progressive Review
Project Vote Smart
Reuters
Sea Shepherd
Slate
Stand for the Troops
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Talking Points Memo
TED
The Crisis Papers
The Intercept
the Oatmeal
Tom Paine.com
truthout
Vox
War and Piece
Washington Votes
WikiLeaks.ch
ynetnews.com

NWCitizen 1995-2007

Early Northwest Citizen

Quiet, Offline or Dead

Bellingham Register

Bob Sanders
Carl Weimer
Chuckanut Mountains
Citizen Ted
Citizens of Bellingham
Cordata & Meridian
David Hackworth
Facebook Port Reform
HamsterTalk
Intrnational Herald Tribune
Jack Petree
N. Sound Conservancy
No Leaky Buckets
Northwest Review
Orcinus
Post-Oklahoman
Protect Bellingham Parks
The American Telegraph
Wally Wonders