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Regional Water Quality Monitoring

DEC has sampled coastal and fresh waters since 2002. The first wetland monitoring occurred in 2011 on the Arctic Coastal Plain. Please click on the map or table below for more information on each project. The mission of DEC's Division of Water is to improve and protect the quality of all Alaskan waters. One way the Division carries out this mission is to monitor and report on water quality.  For more information on each project, visit our surveys page.

The vast majority of Alaska's water resources are thought to be high quality waters due to Alaska's size, sparse population, and the remote character of the state. Because of the abundance of its waters, Alaska must prioritize how limited resources should be applied in monitoring and assessing its waters. DEC partners with and models its surveys after EPA National Aquatic Resource Surveys (NARS) which use probability based survey designs to report on the status of water resources.

In probability surveys (also known as sample-surveys or statistical surveys), sampling sites are selected randomly. Each sampling site represents a specific portion of the total resource or population of interest such as all river and stream length in the nation. Because of the statistical nature of site selection, results from the sample population can be extrapolated to the entire population. For this reason, probability surveys are well suited for making unbiased assessments of the condition of an entire resource across large geographic areas without monitoring every waterbody. (EPA, August 2016)

The surveys are designed to answer questions such as:

  • What percent of waters support healthy ecosystems and recreation?
  • What are the most common water quality problems?
  • Is water quality improving or getting worse?

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