Water Reservations

A water reservation is an appropriated amount of water for maintaining a specified instream flow or level of water at a specified point on a stream or water body or in a specified part of a stream or water body for specified periods of time and for one or more permissible purposes.

Instream uses are called water reservations and are needed for the river, lake or stream to carry out vital ecosystem functions.
Permissible instream uses include fish and wildlife habitat, propagation and migration, transportation, recreation or sanitation for water quality purposes.

Applications for water reservations must be filed with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) under the Division of Mining, Land and Water.

Water reservations have been certificated for the Copper River mainstem in two reaches upstream (B) and downstream (A) of the Million Dollar Bridge outside of Cordova. Nine locations in the Copper River watershed have applications submitted, received and pending with the Department of Natural Resources. These include the Tazlina River, Tonsina River, Little Tonsina River, Gulkana River (West Fork, Middle Fork, and Mainstem), Power Creek, Klutina River and Sinona Creek. See the map below of the water reservation applications in the Copper River watershed.

An instream flow amendment was added to Alaska’s Water Use Act in 1980. This amendment allows for the new appropriation of instream flows through water reservations. An instream flow reservation may be established on any stream or body of water in Alaska that is not fully appropriated and any water body whose water rights are not either fully put to use and/or otherwise reserved. Private individuals, organizations and government agencies may apply for a reservation of water for instream use. Ecological water reservations or instream flow (Instream Flow Protection in Alaska 1999–2009 Klein_2011) are important for fish and wildlife habitat, propagation and migration.

Alaska is a prior appropriation state with the first person to use the water for a beneficial use will continue to use that quantity of water for that purpose. Prior appropriation is unconnected to land ownership and beneficial uses include agricultural, domestic, power generation, ice roads, mining and recreational.

© 2011 Copper River Knowledge System