Lake Padden / Lake Samish

Lake Padden and Lake Samish are locations which provide a whole host of beneficial water-related uses which have been designated as a Stormwater Special District by the Whatcom County Council. In general, the regulations are consistent with Low Impact Development (LID) standards that are intended to protect a valuable resource, whether it be drinking water or aquatic habitat.

Stormwater Special Districts


As described by WCC 20.80.635, the 2 stormwater special districts are the Lake Padden, and Lake Samish watersheds.
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Onsite Stormwater Facilities


Development projects are required to install permanent on-site stormwater quantity and quality facilities for:

Water Resource Special Management Areas

As described by WCC 20.80.735, these areas include the Lake Padden and Lake Samish watersheds. In these areas, the following actions are required:
  • Temporary Erosion and Sediment Control: All measures (e.g., silt fences, check dams, mulching) must be installed prior to any clearing activity.
  • Soil Stabilization: All disturbed areas must be stabilized with approved erosion and sediment control measures within 2 days of disturbance.
  • Tree Retention: On lots within the Lake Padden and Lake Samish watersheds, 65% of the existing tree canopy area is to be retained. Up to 5,000 square feet or 35% of the existing tree canopy area, whichever is greater, may be cleared for a building site, driveway, parking and landscaping.

The removal of any significant tree (not associated with a development proposal) requires a Tree Removal Permit to be submitted for review. If the tree(s) is/are an immediate threat to person or property, the tree may be removed without review.

For more information on tree removal in the Lake Padden and Lake Samish watersheds, please refer to our Tree Removal Page.

  •  Seasonal Clearing Limitations: On parcels within the Lake Padden and Lake Samish watersheds, clearing activities which expose more than 500 sq. ft. of soil are not permitted from October 1st through May 31st per WCC 20.80.735(2)(e).
  • Development Permits: Permits may be submitted at any time during the year. However, permits for work that exceeds 500 square feet of exposed soil cannot be issued prior to June 1.
    • Permits which propose to exceed more than 500 square feet of exposed soil will not be issued during the 2 weeks prior to October 1 to allow for earthwork to be done and stabilized prior to October 1.

Water Resource Protection Overlay District


The following provisions of WCC 20.71 apply only within the Lake Padden, and Lake Samish Watersheds:
  • Impervious surface limits are based on the zoning designation and the lot size. The allowable impervious surface area ranges between 10% and 20% of the total lot area, or 2,500 square feet of impervious surface, whichever is greater.
  • Cluster subdivisions are required for all land divisions resulting in lots smaller than 5 acres. Cluster subdivision is a compact form of development that concentrates density on one portion of a site in exchange for larger buffers and open space between sensitive areas of the site and development.