Most of Alaska's waters are suitable for the following beneficial uses:
- water supply (drinking, agriculture, aquaculture, industrial);
- water recreation;
- growth and propagation of fish, shellfish, aquatic life, and wildlife.
Some beneficial uses are limited by natural water quality conditions in Alaska:
- suspended sediment in glacial waterbodies;
- highly mineralized waterbodies;
- microorganisms such as giardia (beaver fever), schistosoma (swimmer's itch),
- and high bacterial counts from decomposing salmon in streams.
Beneficial uses can also be limited or impaired by the following human activities in Alaska:
- oil & gas development
- timber harvesting
- seafood processing
- Urban development:
- urban runoff
- septic systems
- landfill leachate
- Military development:
- abandoned installations
- operational installations
Fecal coliform bacteria, sediment, and petroleum products are the primary pollutants of surface waters in Alaska.
Petroleum products are the primary pollutants of ground waters in Alaska.
Urban runoff is the most common pollutant source in Alaska.
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