Whatcom Drainage Maintenance Guidance

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Whatcom Conservation District supported by WDOE grants completed a multi-stakeholder process to define a mechanism by which a Special District for agricultural drainage maintenance can efficiently get permission from local and state regulatory agencies. The result of the effort is a guidance manual, that describes a process for conducting a system specific management plan, and a set of best management practices. Drainage Management Plans developed under the guidance have been reviewed by local and state staff, to satisfy SEPA and HPA regulations, and permits in turn reference the BMP specifications. Management plans describe a mixture of ditch maintenance and planting effort resulting in a project with net benefits for protected resources. Ecology funding has expired, and the district can occasionally support development of such plans where there is adequate support for staff time.


  • File:Boggs & Corey 2009 whatcom drainage maintenance guidance.pdf - contains inventory and assessment methods, and BMPS.
  • Whatcom CD Agricultural Drainage Page - containing the full size guidance document, and plans from existing districts.
  • Drainage Improvement District #4 was the first to implement the program, and has significantly reduced its maintenance--hedgerow establishment has controlled Template:PHAARU and resulted in reduced sedimentation and dredging costs.
  • WDOE imposition of a 35' minimum buffer for its s319 program ended hedgerow adoption in Whatcom County, and some districts turn to herbicide spraying to minimize maintenance costs.
  • The manual recommends a three-type watercourse assessment: natural, modified, constructed; with anticipated fish use being a separate consideration.