I, Walter J. Hickel, Governor of the State of Alaska, under the authority granted by Article III of the Alaska Constitution, hereby establish the State Water Policy. This policy presents the position of the State of Alaska in addressing the complicated and numerous issues faced by the State’s Water Resource Managers in assuring that (1) Alaska’s water resources are made available for maximum use consistent with the public interest, (2) the quality and quantity of Alaska’s water resources are protected for the use and enjoyment by all Alaskans, and (3) water dependent resources and activities such as fish and wildlife, recreation and transportation are afforded the protection necessary to assure use by future generations.
STATE WATER POLICYIt is the policy of the State of Alaska to efficiently manage and conserve its water resources for the maximum use and benefit of its citizens, consistent with the public’s interest. In so doing, the state’s goal is to maximize public benefits by improving the quality of life of its residents, conserving the natural environment, facilitating and encouraging economic development, and protecting life and property. To further this policy, the following principles will guide the management of Alaska’s water resources:
- The state is the conservator of public water resources;
- The state will permit the broadest possible access to and common use of state waters, consistent with the public interests, acknowledging that the Legislature may by general law regulate and limit access to state waters in the interest of preserving or fostering preferred beneficial uses or public purposes (Constitution of Alaska, Article VIII, Sections 3, 13 and 14);
- Whenever occurring in a natural state, all surface and ground water resources are reserved to the people for common use. However, all waters are subject to appropriation to the extent permissible by law. Except for an appropriation for a public water supply, an appropriation of water shall be limited to stated purposes and subject to preferences among beneficial uses, concurrent or otherwise, as prescribed by law; and subject to the general reservation of fish and wildlife (Constitution of Alaska, Article VIII, Sections 3 and 13 and AS 46.15.030);
- No person shall be involuntarily divested of his right to the use of waters, or improvements affecting that use, except for a superior beneficial use or public purpose and then only with just compensation and by operation of law (Constitution of Alaska, Article VIII, Section 16);
- Water resources shall be managed to ensure that adequate supplies of water are available for public water supplies, the protection of fish and wildlife habitat, migration, and propagation, recreation and park purposes, navigation and transportation purposes, and sanitary and water quality purposes, if found to be in the public interest (AS 46.15.080(1,));
- State water quality standards shall be judiciously and fairly enforced;
- The quality of water resources will be maintained, or improved to minimum water quality standards when feasible and prudent, so that current and future generations of Alaskans will have access to good quality water with which to meet their basic needs;
- Water resources planning is integral to wise water management. To the extent practicable, the state shall conduct sufficient water resources planning to ensure wise use and management of its waters. The state shall also solicit public participation in the planning and management of its water resources;
- The state will encourage water conservation and public education in its management of water resources;
- To the extent required by law, the state shall provide for the regulation, supervision, and periodic inspection of privately-owned and state-owned dams, reservoirs, and appurtenant works in order to ensure that the design, construction, and removal of dams and reservoirs is consistent with the protection of life and property (AS 46.17.010);
- The state shall work cooperatively with the public and other state, local, and federal agencies to administer water rights, conduct navigability determinations, collect water resources data, assure water quality standards are upheld, and provide scientific and technical assistance as requested;
- The state shall systematically collect, record, store, evaluate, and distribute water resources data to determine the quality, quantity, location, and use of the state’s water resources. Such activities are in the public’s interest and are necessary for the orderly domestic and industrial development of the state (AS 41.08.017);
- State agencies shall ensure that regulatory processes involving the state’s water resources are efficient as possible and that, to the extent feasible, regulatory or jurisdictional duplication among state agencies is avoided or eliminated wherever found.
This order takes effect immediately.
Dated at Juneau, Alaska, this 14th day of July 1992.
By: S/S Walter J. Hickel
Walter J. Hickel
Governor of the State of Alaska