RDC Comments on proposed DNR Water Management Regulations 

April 2, 2021

Brandon McCutcheon
Division of Mining, Land and Water
550 W. 7th Avenue, Suite 1070

Anchorage, AK 99501-3579

Submitted via [email protected]

Dear Mr. McCutcheon:

The Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc. (RDC) is writing to comment on the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) proposed changes to water management regulations regarding the appropriation and use of water. 

RDC is a statewide trade association comprised of individuals and companies from Alaska’s fishing, forestry, mining, oil and gas, and tourism industries. RDC’s membership includes Alaska Native corporations, local communities, organized labor, and industry support firms. RDC’s purpose is to encourage a strong, diversified private sector in Alaska and expand the state’s economic base through the responsible development of our natural resources. 

It is a priority for RDC to advocate for policy that enhances the State of Alaska’s competitiveness for all industries to attract new investment and grow the economy. Further, RDC supports policies aimed at ensuring a reliable process, and advocates for timely and efficient permitting processes based on sound science and feasibility.

DNR’s Water Regulations manage the state’s water for a variety of uses, and we believe that improvements in the following key areas will strengthen the ability to promote economic development while protecting the environment:

Private parties must not have control over public water

The proposed change to 11 AAC 93.146(b) to ensure that DNR holds the reservation of water if the applicant is a private entity captures a critical priority. However, the regulation package also proposes in the new subsection §146(g) to give the applicant legal standing in managing the reservation, even if DNR holds the certificate. This takes control away from the state and legal standing potentially makes instream flow reservations an even more powerful tool for those who oppose development in Alaska.  This provision should be removed from the regulations.

Instream Flow Reservations (IFRs) must be used only when needed

DNR must follow the requirement that an IFR demonstrate an actual need. Regulations should specify and clarify that need should be determined by asking if another, more robust, permit process is or will be considering the issue; if there is no other permit process that could address the issue; and if the water is in an already protected area or one in which no development is being considered.  

RDC members – including mining, oil and gas, and fishing – are directly affected by IFRs. Our members depend on a reliable, predictable and reasonable permitting process. We are very concerned that without the improvements in the key areas described above, it will be far too easy for a person or private entity to secure an IFR. The decision would likely result in unnecessary or unsupported IFRs granted around our member projects and facilities, and potentially communities, increasing uncertainty in the permitting process. This uncertainty sends a negative message to future investors, affecting the ability of RDC’s members to attract investment for new and existing projects in Alaska.

Thank you for this opportunity to provide comments on this important issue.


Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc