Letter: Plant may have lost water rights

The old Ship Creek Power Plant’s current boosters must own rose-colored glasses (ADN, July 15). Their plans to re-commission the plant to again produce electricity requires Ship Creek water (just as it did when Chugach Electric operated it from around 1952 to 1985).  However, the plant’s present owners may have no valid right to use this water. 

The plant’s water right appears to have been forfeited because the plant has not generated electricity for 28 years. Under law, the lapse of only five years in using an existing water right establishes a presumption of forfeiture. “Use it or lose it” underlies Alaska’s Water Use Act. 

Ship Creek may have more valid claims to its water, than it has water available. The municipality and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game have pending applications that would have to yield if the power plant’s long-unused water rights is, contrary to law, somehow given new life. So, bring out those rose-colored glasses.

— Thomas E. Meacham