Gov. Parnell was quoted in the Sept. 29 paper (Laine Welch, Page B-5) as saying, “We are the only state in the union that allows a private party to tie up water from other parties. … (A) government entity (must) hold those water reservations and not private entities.”
The governor is either mistaken or untruthful. In every state, water rights are held by private landowners, citizens, and businesses (from industry to mom-and-pop farms).
Furthermore, some states also apply the principle of “public trust” — water must be conserved for “public resources” such as recreation, salmon, or migratory birds. That’s why California’s supreme court forced the Los Angeles water utility to let more water flow into Mono Lake, 300 miles away.
If the governor really wants to bring Alaska in line with other states, he’ll keep the Chuitna mine far away from any salmon stream.
— Vivian Mendenhall