Groups Suing State For Failure to Approve Water Rights Application

Two groups that are opposed to the development of a coal mine across Cook Inlet from Anchorage are suing the state.   The Trustees for Alaska filed the complaint earlier this month, alleging that the state Department of Natural Resources failed to approve an application for water rights made by the groups, while it granted water use permits to the coal development company.

The Chuitna Citizens Coalition and Cook Inletkeeper have sued DNR and its commissioner Dan Sullivan, alleging that in two years his department failed to process an application for instream flow rights to Middle Creek.  The creek is within the Chuitna River watershed, and is certain to be impacted by the mine development proposed by PacRim.  Valerie Brown is an attorney with the Trustees for Alaska.

Brown says the lawsuit asks the court to require DNR to adjudicate the groups’ application in a timely matter.

DNR works with the Department of Fish and Game to assure that temporary water use permits and water rights applications do not harm fish or fish habitat, according to Ed Fogels,  DNR’s deputy commissioner.  Fogels says in-stream flow permit  review is prioritized.

Fogels says it’s important to understand that because an instream flow application has been filed, it doesn’t mean that DNR will stop all other water permitting activity on that water body while the instream flow application is being considered.

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