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Lake Clark National Park and Preserve Water Quality

Utilizing the clean water Steve Bruner, Intern, National Parks Conservation Association The park is mandated to protect the watershed and to maintain, unimpaired, the scenic beauty of the park. At present the Alaska state water quality standards classify the majority of state waters for potable use, requiring that man's activities do not diminish that use. Maintaining the quality of water systems in the park and preserve will be carried out in a manner that is consistent with and under the regulatory parameters of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

That department will be consulted prior to any future NPS development of water treatment facilities. Any decline in water quality caused by man's influence that would compromise the perpetuation of the red salmon fishery in Bristol Bay would be inconsistent with state regulations. Potential impacts could occur from such activities as mining, recreational use, residential and commercial pollution, or natural disasters. Both federal and state authorities and regulations will be fully utilized to mitigate adverse influences where possible. The park desires to maintain water quality at an appropriate level for human consumption, consistent with that reasonably expected in a natural area.

A water quality monitoring program will be initiated to determine trends. Considering the long-term expanded use of the park by visitor, as well as increasing development and human activities on private lands, water quality related public health concerns will become increasingly important. Such public health concerns will be addressed as an ongoing management objective in conjunction with the state and other federal agencies. It should be recognized that the presence of natural waterborne organisms that pose a possible threat to human health (such as Giardia) is not considered to be a water quality problem. By September 30, 2005, Lake Clark has unimpaired water quality. The park waters receive no discharges from any park owned or managed activity.

There are no park waters listed in the state's 303(d) list. Tests of park waters consistently indicate that the quality meets or exceeds water quality standards. The park will maintain these conditions through September 30, 2005. Lake Clark National Park and Preserve (LACL) is located in a hydrologically complex environment in south-central Alaska where there are many glaciers and several active volcanoes. The park contains diverse fresh water resources including three Wild and Scenic Rivers and 14 lakes larger than 1000 acres. It contains an additional 860 waterbodies from 2.5 to 1000 acres. Lake Clark was created to "...protect the watershed necessary for the perpetuation of the sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) in Bristol Bay, maintain the scenic beauty and quality of portions of the Alaska Range and Aleutian Range, including active volcanoes, glaciers, wild rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and alpine meadows in their natural state;" (ANILCA 1980).

Lake Clark is the largest body of water in the park and preserve, the second largest lake basin in the Kvichak River drainage, and the sixth largest freshwater lake in Alaska. The waters in the park support significant sockeye salmon spawning habitat for the Bristol Bay commercial fishery, one of the largest in the world. Water quality will be monitored by sampling statistically selected inventory sites. The park is currently testing impacts of erosion due to wave action by sport craft. This includes siltation and other impacts that may effect water quality. These tests will provide information leading to an action plan to mitigate the effects, if needed.

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