Alaska has the greatest groundwater resources of any state in the United States.
Groundwater resources are used for most domestic needs around the state.
Groundwater supply aquifers range from extremely small thaw bulbs in permafrost to large regional aquifers. The extensive permafrost development around the state provides challenges to the development of groundwater resources.
In many parts of Alaska, steep topography limits the size of most aquifers, preventing large scale extraction. Groundwater is also used for bottled water export and many industrial operations, such as mining. Warm groundwater discharging to the Chilkat River allows the river to stay unfrozen in the early winter. This has allowed a late run of salmon to become established and over 3,000 bald eagles gather in the early winter to feed on the fish.
Interesting Alaska Groundwater Facts
- Alaska has the largest volume of frozen groundwater in the U.S.
- In the spring, much of the groundwater recharge comes from snow melt.
- Groundwater generally discharges to lakes and streams, but may discharge into the oceans.
- Some groundwater is removed, via wells, using pumps.
- In the winter, Alaska groundwater from springs and seeps freezes, forming icing or "aufeis".
The Division of Mining, Land and Water, Water Management Section (PDF), oversees the management and appropriation of Alaska's groundwater.
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