Tier 3 bill topic of state senate committee hearing
March 14, 2019
The Senate Resources Committee will meet on Friday at 3:30 p.m. to discuss a bill that would require three state agencies’ approval before nominating waters for Tier 3 status.
Tier 3 designated waters, also known as Outstanding National Resource Waters, add a level of protection that would prohibit “new or increased discharges that would lower or degrade the existing water quality unless they were temporary or limited,” according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.
Federal water quality standards regulations require states to have anti-degradation standards. However, Alaska has not yet designated guidelines for that process.
In February, the Senate Resources Committee introduced Senate Bill 51, which would mandate support from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Fish and Game and the Department of Natural Resources before recommending Tier 3 status to the legislature.
Four Tier 3 waters have been nominated since 2010, including the Chilkat River.
The Chilkat River is currently designated Tier 2—high quality waterways where natural water quality is better than the threshold necessary for designated uses. Water quality can be degraded for necessary and important social or economic development, according to state guidelines.