What is Stormwater?

Stormwater is runoff from rain or snow melt that is not absorbed into the ground. As water travels to over our yards, roads and sidewalks it picks up pollutants along the way. Stormwater may look clean, but it can often contain motor oil, gasoline, dog poop, garbage, fertilizer, pesticides and other contaminants. Contrary to popular belief, stormwater does not get diverted to a waste treatment facility, and instead is emptied directly into our lakes, rivers and bays. Managing our stormwater and drainage is key to preserving the health of our local waterways, and protecting public and private property from erosion and flooding.

Stormwater Problems

Surface water runoff is a normal part of the water cycle. Stormwater becomes a problem when it picks up pollutants traveling over surfaces like roads, parking lots, and yards. Impervious surfaces that don’t allow the water to soak into the ground cause stormwater to runoff more quickly, increasing erosion and flooding.

What You Can Do

  • Pick up pet waste

  • Don't litter

  • Dispose of any oils, chemicals or paints properly. Click here for information on safe disposal.

  • Practice sustainable landscaping around your home and business

  • Maintain vehicles to ensure there are no leaks & use commercial car wash

  • If you have livestock, use a farm plan

  • If you have an on-site septic system, be sure to maintain it frequently

Every resident and visitor in the Birch Bay Watershed has the power to help solve stormwater problems and protect water quality through their individual choices and actions. BBWARM's education and outreach program is designed to increase public knowledge of stormwater problems and solutions and to promote citizen actions that keep pollution out of the water and reduce drainage problems. Click on the links below for more helpful tips and information on ways you can help keep pollution out of the water and reduce local drainage problems.

Report a Water Pollution Problem

If you witness a spill, chemicals being washed into a stormwater drain, or a contaminated stream, contact Whatcom County Public Works: 360-778-6230 (Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). If it is after work hours, and NOT an emergency, please leave a voicemail. If this is an emergency, call 911 immediately . For more information on reporting water pollution, click here.

Every resident and visitor in the Birch Bay Watershed has the power to help solve stormwater problems and protect water quality through their individual choices and actions. Click here for simple ways to prevent stormwater pollution.

Protecting water quality ensures Birch Bay remains safe for recreation and shellfish harvesting. Good water quality also supports a healthy aquatic ecosystem. BBWARM supports Whatcom County's comprehensive water quality monitoring program for the Birch Bay Watershed. Learn more about water quality.

Picking up pet waste and putting it in the trash is a simple thing pet owners can do to keep bacteria and other pathogens out of our streams and Birch Bay. BBWARM and community volunteers make it easy by maintaining the pet waste stations around Birch Bay Drive. Learn more

Homeowners can make simple changes in their landscaping and gardening practices to help keep stormwater clean and slow down runoff.

Learn more

The Terrell Creek Landowner Stewardship Program works to keep Terrell Creek clean. The Chums of Terrell Creek are partnering with the Whatcom Conservation District and BBWARM to bring this program to the upper Terrell Creek watershed.

Click here to visit the Chums of Terrell Creek website and learn more.

Does your neighborhood have drainage, flooding, erosion or water quality issues? Take the first step toward solving these stormwater issues by monitoring and reporting conditions in your area before and after large rain events.

Learn more

Vehicle pollutants on roadways will drain directly into our lakes, rivers and bays. Find out how you can maintain your vehicle responsibly to help protect our local waterways.

Learn more

Are you a horse owner interested in protecting horse health and the environment? This program from the Whatcom Conservation District recognizes horse owners in Whatcom County who have taken actions to improve pastures, reduce mud, manage manure and provide wildlife habitat on their property.

Learn more

Shoreline landowners face challenges to manage erosion, wildlife habitat, slope stability and drainage. Development can harm these landscapes, but landowners can take simple steps to mitigate their impact and improve shoreline structure.

Learn more

Many homeowners associations and commercial properties are responsible for stormwater systems like stormwater ponds. Regularly inspecting and maintaining these systems keeps repair costs down and ensures they work properly to slow down and clean up stormwater.

Learn more

Click here to subscribe to the BBWARM Monthly E-Newsletter and to view our past Newsletters!


Terrell Creek & Birch Bay State of the Watershed Reports

Birch Bay Visitor Center Posters

Stormwater Education Websites

Low Impact Development