Move underway to protect drinking water supply

Posted: Sunday, April 08, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Gas-powered boats, jet skis and floatplanes could be banned from Eklutna Lake under a proposed agreement to protect Anchorage's main source of drinking water.

Eklutna Lake is in no current danger of contamination but officials want to keep it that way, said Al Meiners, superintendent of Chugach State Park.

Residents would still be able to use electric motors as well as any kind of human-powered boat.

''We just want to make sure we're doing everything we can,'' he said. ''The potential is there.''

Eklutna Lake provides an average of 18 millions gallons a day, about 75 percent of the city's water. The agreement between Chugach State Park and the Anchorage Water & Wastewater Utility also covers the watershed of Ship Creek, the city's other main water source.

A recent study by the state Department of Environmental Conservation identified several potential pollution threats to the lake, including pit toilets and campgrounds as well as ATV and snowmachine use of trails around the lake.

The agreement calls for park managers to develop a spill response plan for Eklutna. They also would consult water utility officials before conducting any significant land use activities that could harm the lake's water quality.

The lake is in good shape, said Trena Hallback, an environmental specialist with the DEC who headed up the study. Testing has turned up only one type of contaminant, nitrates, in small amounts, she said.

Officials hope to complete the agreement by May. The changes would then have to be adopted as part of the park's administrative code, which would require public hearings, Meiners said. Those would likely take place in early summer, he said.

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