Under the authority of Article III, Sections 1, 16 and 24, of the Alaska Constitution, AS 41.08.017(a), AS 44.17.060 and AS 44.19.145(c), I hereby (1) describe the need for all Alaskans to protect the state’s groundwater resource consistent with the “Alaska Groundwater Quality Protection Strategy” and (2) assign the responsibilities for implementing that strategy to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in investigating, managing and protecting this resource.
Section 1. Findings. Groundwater is an important resource that is vulnerable to contamination. Alaska must implement, with a prevention-oriented approach, improvements in existing government industry, and public efforts to protect this valuable resource. DEC, in cooperation with the public, industry, local governments, and state and federal agencies, developed the “Alaska Groundwater Quality Protection Strategy” to guide improvements in managing and protecting our groundwater. The Strategy is based on the following facts:
(a) protection of groundwater is essential for the health, welfare, and economic prosperity of all Alaskans;
(b) groundwater is used by many Alaskans for their source of drinking water;
(c) groundwater is widely used for industrial water supply and fish processing;
(d) groundwater provides water to streams, lakes, marshes, and intertidal areas important for sustaining fish and wildlife;
(e) prevention of groundwater pollution is more economical and easier than detection and cleanup;
(f) Alaskans are finding more and more of their groundwater resource polluted, and
(g) all Alaskans share a responsibility for protection of our groundwater resource.
Section 2. Responsibilities. DEC and DNR are the primary state agencies responsible for the identification, management and protection of Alaska’s groundwater resource. DEC’s responsibilities are:
(a) to prevent and abate pollution of the state’s groundwater resource;
(b) to systematically identify, investigate, and quantify potential sources of soil and groundwater pollution;
(c) to oversee the investigation and cleanup of sites with soil or groundwater pollution;
(d) to coordinate management of data related to regulatory responsibilities for protection of public health and the environment; and
(e) to work with local governments, state and federal agencies, and the public to improve groundwater protection activities.
DNR’s responsibilities are:
(a) to collect, record, evaluate, and distribute data on the quantity, quality, location, and use of groundwater;
(b) to periodically publish data related to the quantity or quality of groundwater of the state;
(c) to systematically identify, investigate, and quantify the quantity and quality of the state’s groundwater resource;
(d) to coordinate management of data related to geologic and hydrologic characteristics of aquifers;
(e) to work with local governments to improve the knowledge and understanding of the groundwater resource in their area;
(f) to adjudicate and grant water rights for the use of groundwater; and
(g) to establish policy related to groundwater use and management.
Section 3. Interagency Cooperation. DEC and DNR, where there is a joint concern, shall initiate cooperative efforts or studies to provide information for aquifer protection, planning and management. DNR shall collect and be the lead agency in investigating aquifer and groundwater characteristics and in managing the use of groundwater. DEC shall be the lead agency in investigating actual or potential sources of groundwater contamination. Both agencies shall coordinate with other state and federal agencies, local governments, industry, and the public to enhance protection and management of Alaska’s groundwater resource.
This order takes effect immediately.
Dated at Juneau, Alaska, this 26 day of July 1990.
By: S/S Steve Cowper
Governor of the State of Alaska