Tubutulik River Instream Flow Protection Project
This Project is funded by a generous grant from the Bureau of Indian Affairs through it's Water Resources Management, Planning and Pre-Development Program
Under the Tubutulik River Instream Flow Protection Project, and with the assistence of Laoch Consulting, the Native Village of Elim is protecting instream flows, water quality and subsistence uses by obtaining a certificate of reservation (Reservation) for instream flows in the Tubutulik River Watershed (Watershed) located on the Seward Peninsula in northwestern Alaska. Under the Alaska State Water Code.
The primary purpose of the proposed reservation is for protection of fish and wildlife habitat, migration, and propagation in the Tubutulik River Watershed. The Watershed produces a variety of important Pacific salmon and other fish species in the Norton Sound area. In addition, the Watershed is located within the Migratory range of the Western Arctic Caribou Herd which rely on the associated watersheds for habitat and forage needs. Current threats to fish and wildlife habitat within the River’s watershed, however, include gold and uranium exploration and other mining related activity and associated roads, railroads from Dalton Highway to mine; port and road expansions and mining camps. A map of Project Location in relation to Reservation boundaries is attached.
The Village has up to three years to complete the data collection and analysis needed to justify the requested instream reservation. The Village is, therefore, partnering with Laoch Consulting which is conducting the follow-up tasks to submission of the Application including continuing to: 1) monitor the relevant laws and standards for establishment of instream flow reservations under the Alaska State Water Code and the requirements established by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR); 2) consult with DNR staff regarding the background information required to secure the water right certificate, including the estimation of the amount of instream water used 3) develop an assessment to determine if water is available for the reservation; 5) research laws and regulations related to the protection of stream flows on federal reserves for the benefit of native communities as an additional layer of protection of flows in the River; 6) monitor and report on reserved instream flow/level of water and conduct additional data collection or analysis; 7) publish water reservation certification; 8) install and maintain stream gages, weirs, or staff gages; 8) Continue process to complete the data collection and analysis needed to justify the requested instream reservation.
The Project will result in a certified water right to instream flows under the Alaska State Water Code that will provide protections of stream flows for subsistence purposes in the Rivers. A reservation of water for instream uses protects specific instream water uses, such as fish spawning or recreation, sets aside the water necessary for these activities and keeps later water users from appropriating water that may affect the instream activity. Water can be reserved for one or more permissible uses on a particular part of a stream or lake during a certain period of time. Like an out-of-stream water right, an instream reservation of water is similar to a property right. It cannot be abandoned, transferred, assigned, or converted to another use without approval of DNR.