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Water: Nonpoint Source Success Stories



Alaska Piggybacks Environmental Projects -
A Manual for Stream Crossings Provides Fish Habitat Improvements

Improper design and installation of stream crossings and other cross-drainage structures often results in two major problems. First, they become barriers to the free movement of fish; second, they require more maintenance than properly installed crossings. The problem can be most acute in the oil fields on Alaska's North Slope, whereice and snow accumulations intensify spring runoff events.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, recognizing the seriousness of this problem, began working on its solution in the state's 1990 Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Strategy. Specifically, the Department asked the Nonpoint Source Oil and Gas Working Group, consisting of industry, borough, and agency representatives, to help the state determine a course of action.

After some deliberation, the working group recommended the development and publication of consistent design and installation standards for culverts, bridges, and pipeline crossings on all North Slope fish streams. A manual containing such standards is now available for all resource managers, mining operators, and residents of the North Slope.

As predicted, the manual is used whenever new structures are needed and routinely to ensure that maintenance, either regular repairs or retrofits of older crossings, will adequately reduce pollution and improve fish passage.

Surveys demonstrate project effectiveness

The manual is used whenever new structures are needed and to ensure that maintenance will adequately reduce pollution and improve fish passage.

This project is a companion task to a survey completed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game under the same work plan. Fish and Game surveyed 10 stream crossings and verified the success of fish habitat remedial actions at five high-priority stream crossings.

The database and conclusions generated from the survey were intended to support improvements in the stream crossings manual.

In turn, the manual has helped reduce the impact of culverts, bridges, and cross-drainage structures on wetlands and water and should reduce permitting and project review times for both industry and state agencies.

CONTACTS: Steve Willingham
Andrew Grant

Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
(907) 465-5304

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