Alaska Clean Water Actions (ACWA)
What is ACWA?
The Alaska Clean Water Actions (ACWA) was created through Administrative Order 200. This directive told Alaska resource agencies to work together to characterize Alaska's waters in a holistic manner; sharing data, expertise and other information. ACWA's database of priority waters and identified stewardship actions is a product of this collaboration. The three state resource agencies, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Fish and Game and Department of Natural Resources also conduct an annual joint matched-solicitation for water quality projects using funds that are passed through from federal monies. Projects to restore, protect or conserve water quality, quantity and aquatic habitat on identified waters are considered. Local governments, citizen groups, tribes and education facilities are often the recipients of these awards.
A plan for Healthy Water
Alaska has more water in the form of lakes, streams, rivers, coastline and wetlands than any other state in the union. In addition, three different state agencies are involved in assuring our waters are clean, healthy and available for various uses. The Alaska Clean Water Actions (ACWA) program brings the State resource agencies, DEC, Fish and Game and DNR, together to deal with our waters in a coordinated and cooperative method, assuring state resources are used on our highest priorities.
What are ACWA's Goals?
ACWA creates a cooperative method to collect information and direct resources to prevent or correct problems. It also provides an avenue to identify areas where prevention and stewardship efforts should be encouraged.
How does this process work?
ACWA provides a consolidated approach for a complete assessment of the health and status of any particular waterbody. Likewise, it provides a means to, coordinate the use of State funds so that they can be directed to those projects that truly represent the State's highest priorities based on the "big picture". In the past, State agencies focused on the particular aspect of our waterbodies that concerned them. For instance, the Department of Fish and Game is concerned about water as fish and wildlife habitat; the Department of Environmental Conservation is responsible for ensuring that state water quality standards are met, to ensure many water uses; and the Department of Natural Resources is in charge of water quantity and administers water rights and withdrawals. ACWA brings the agencies together to assess all aspects of a waterbody, and make joint decisions on assessment and restoration.
How are waters evaluated?
Each agency contributes its expertise, information and funding to the joint effort. A database collects waterbody information from various sources. Members of the public may also contribute information, or may register concerns about a waterbody by "nominating" it for attention. All nominated waterbodies are ranked by assessing the information we have and the information needed. The agencies' resources are then allocated to those waterbodies with the most pressing needs, and work is carried out to restore, protect, or determine more about them. The ultimate goal is clean water that is fishable, swimmable, workable and drinkable throughout the state.