Bill that would limit the public’s ability to protect river flow hears vocal opposition

The Parnell Administration and Department of Natural Resources says House Bill 77 would streamline permit process for water rights. Opponents of the bill, including the Talkeetna Community Council, say putting stream flow decisions solely in the hands of the government is another policy that limits public participation in resource decision.
If it becomes law, House Bill 77 would, among other things, strip away the ability of individuals to have a say in water resources, as well as limit the ability of people to challenge resource decisions that impact public resources.

Several people took the opportunity to submit testimony to the Senate Finance Committee. The majority of comments were from people like Da Dunaway from Dillingham, who was concerned that turning over all water authority to DNR would present a threat to the Salmon resources that alaskans depend on, and would disenfranchise the public.

Dan Dunaway was one of several fishermen from Dillingham to submit concerns that the Bill was not keeping with the spirit of Alaska’s constitution.

Clip: Duanaway

Many people like Former Senator Rick Halford, addressed concerns that in-stream flow reservations that have already been granted will be retroactively withdrawn.

Clip: Halford

Halford said that passing the bill would likely result in lawsuits

Senate Finance Committee member Senator Olson suggested a Subcommittee be formed to examine the bill, given the short amount of time left in the session and the many legal questions that remain to be answered.

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