Water Resources

Alaska contains 36% of the Nation’s water and the Copper River watershed is the sixth largest watershed in Alaska with a very high sediment input. The Copper River watershed is 66,000 km2 (25,480 mi2) and is the largest drainage in the Gulf of Alaska. In 1995, 18% of the Copper River was glaciers. Major tributaries to the Copper River are the Gulkana River, Tonsina River, Bering River and Chistochina River.

Alaska is a prior appropriations state with first in time, first in right water rights. Water reservations are designed to save a specific amount of water for instream uses. Water rights are for out-of-stream uses such as domestic water supply. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) oversees water reservations and water rights as well as adjudications for the state of Alaska. Applications are filed with DNR for consideration of water reservations for various uses such as fish and wildlife habitat protection. Water rights applications are also filed with DNR.

Drinking water in Alaska comes from various surface and ground water sources particularly wells. Currently, the Copper River Watershed provides water to approximately 7,500 people.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Weather Service (NWS) operate stream gauges throughout Alaska. There are two continously recording stream gauges in the Copper River watershed. One gauge is located at the Million Dollar Bridge on the Copper River mainstem, and the other gauge is located on the Gulkana River at Sourdough. The NWS operates 11 gauges throughout the Copper River watershed.

Copper River rafting (Ecotrust) Copper River Glacier (Ecotrust) CRC Ecosytem Map
© 2011 Copper River Knowledge System