League of Women Voters wants to know how proposal will affect water quality

Pork project raises questions

Posted: Monday, June 18, 2001

The League of Women Voters is made up of concerned citizens in different communities throughout the United States. The league studies issues and takes action only after its members reach consensus through a thorough study process.

The mission statement reads, "The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan, political organization, encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy." The league does not support individual candidates or political parties but studies and supports issues.

The Central Peninsula League of Women Voters, a local chapter of the state and national league, has been involved in the Kenai Peninsula and issues for the past 20 years. An issue of concern to local members at this time is the proposed "Alaska Pork Project."

While the league supports economic opportunity for all, we have several concerns about the environment based on our national position -- reached after lengthy research and consensus -- on natural resources. Specifically, the league supports:

1. "Water resource programs and policies that reflect the interrelationships of water quality, wanter quantity, groundwater and surface water and that address the potential depletion or pollution of water supplies."

Before supporting the proposed "Alaska Pork Project," the league wants to guarantee that water supplies and quality are protected. The Kenai River and its wetlands are too important to the economic and social life of our community to be jeopardized by this project without guarantees for ground and surface water safety.

In other projects, the establishment of a farm of 40,000 hogs has been grounds for widespread concern and protests. The proposed project in Alaska is for 600,000 animals, more than the human population of the state.

At this point in time, the league is very interested in seeing specific proposals that address the pollution of water supplies.

2. "Measures to reduce water pollution from direct point-source discharges and from indirect nonpoint sources."

The direct point-source discharges from 600,000 hogs is bound to be extensive. We are very interested in seeing how the specific measures proposed will address this issue and the size of the sewer treatment plant.

3. "Policies to achieve water quality essential for maintaining species populations and diversity, including measures to protect lakes, estuaries, wetlands and in-stream flows."

Because of the importance of the entire watershed on the Kenai Peninsula, the policies need to be more than the general controls now in place by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

4. "Stringent controls to protect the quality of current and potential drinking water supplies, including protection for watersheds for surface supplies and of recharge areas for groundwater."

Because of the interrelationship of the watersheds on the Kenai, this groundwater issue is extremely important. We want to see specific plans and policies in place to address the drinking-water issue.

The league is working to encourage the informed and active participation of all citizens in government and wants to help increase understanding of major public policy issues. The proposed Alaska Pork Project has possibilities for economic diversity and development, but also has the potential for environmental damage. We will continue to monitor the project and inform the public.

Sammy Crawford is a 33-year Kenai resident and has been active in the League of Women Voters for more than 20 years. She is a retired teacher and community volunteer.

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