USGS Washington Water Science Center
|Project Home | Publications and Products | News Releases | Project Summaries | Partnerships ||
Lake Whatcom, a large, natural lake in Whatcom County, is a source of drinking water for about 86,000 in the Bellingham area and a place for recreation. Elevated levels of mercury have been found in fish and sediment sampled from the lake. Possible sources of the mercury include atmospheric deposition, tributary discharges, landfills, dumpsites, and local mining operations.
To serve the need in Whatcom County to develop a better understanding of the situation, the USGS is assessing the importance of the potential sources of mercury by comparing accumulation rates in the lake with global rates. The USGS is also examining concentrations of mercury and the closeness of samples to potential sources. Data on concentrations of mercury in fish are also being used to help identify sources of mercury.