Temporary Water Use Authorization
What is it and do I need one?
A Temporary Water Use Authorization (TWUA) is for the temporary use of unappropriated water. A TWUA can be issued for any length of time up to 5 consecutive years. Water use includes water withdrawals (including dewatering activities), diversions, impoundments, and in source uses. One TWUA application can be used to request up to 5 separate water sources.
Per 11 AAC 93.035 (a) (b) and 11 AAC 93.220, a temporary water use authorization must be received from DNR prior to:
- (1) the consumptive use of more than 5,000 gallons of water from a single source in a single day; or
- (2) the regular daily or recurring consumptive use of more than 500 gallons per day (gpd) from a single source for more than 10 days per calendar year; or
- (3) the non-consumptive use of more than 30,000 gpd (0.05 cubic feet per second) from a single source; or
- (4) any water use that may adversely affect the water rights of other appropriators or the public interest.
Authorized temporary water use is subject to amendment, modification or revocation by the department. A water right or priority is not established by a temporary water use authorization.
Please note the definition of non-consumptive use per 11 AAC 93.970 (33): "non-consumptive water use" means the instream use of water, or the diversion of water where the quantity of water diverted is not diminished except by evaporation or transpiration and the water is returned to its original source at the original point of diversion immediately after its use;
If a proposed water use does not come within the definition of non-consumptive water use, then it will be a consumptive use of water relative to the requested water source. Consequently, water uses such as diversions of water for culvert installations, (including pump arounds), excavation dewatering, and other activities where the water itself is not being put to some specific use will still require an authorization from DNR if the quantities involved exceed the significant amount of water threshold of 11 AAC 93.035(a) (b). Also, the term original point of diversion is interpreted to mean the initial point of water withdrawal, not simply the same water source, (i.e. taking water from a stream and putting the water back into the stream, but not at the same point the water was initially withdrawn from, does not satisfy the original point of diversion aspect).
How do I obtain an authorization?
Download a Temporary Water Use Application Form
To obtain a temporary water use authorization in Alaska, you need to submit an Application for Temporary Use of Water to DNR. The application must include (per 11 AAC 93.220):
- The application fee prescribed by 11 AAC 05.010 (see below).
- A map identifying the section, township, range, and meridian, and indicating the location, of the property, the point of use and the point of withdrawal, diversion, dewatering and/or impoundment.
A signed application form that includes:
- The legal description of the point of water withdrawal, impoundment or diversion
- The quantity of water to be used, with documentation and calculations justifying the request.
- The nature of the water use and project description.
- The daily duration and months of use (with an expiration date).
- The type and size of equipment used to withdraw, divert or impound the water.
Please consider applying for a multi-year TWUA in order to ensure the full scope of a project is covered. Once a complete application is received, an agency notice (to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation) is required prior to a decision to issue or deny an authorization. Please apply for a TWUA 60 days prior to the date the TWUA is needed to allow for the application review time and decision documentation. If a TWUA expires and a new one is required for an additional period of time, a new application will have to be submitted with a new application fee.
An application/request regarding temporary water use must be accompanied by the appropriate filing fee of $450 per application (which includes up to 18 hours of staff time).
An amendment to a TWUA may be required for a variety of reasons such as:
- Change in water source or addition of new sources
- Change in withdrawal volume per day or per season
- Change in water use or location of use
- Change in season of use
An amendment request goes through the same adjudication process as a new application, and should be submitted prior to the expiration of a TWUA. Please allow 60 days for adjudication.
There is not a form for amendments. Simply send an email or letter with the requested change to the office that issued your TWUA.
An amendment to a temporary water use authorization must be accompanied by the appropriate filing fee of $350 (which includes up to 14 hours of staff time).
- A TWUA may be extended one time only.
- It may be extended so that the TWUA covers up to 5 consecutive years total duration when combined with the initial issuance period.
- It may only be extended when it is still active. If it has already expired, it cannot be extended. If a TWUA has already expired, a new application and application fee will need to be submitted.
As with an amendment, an extension also requires an agency notice.
An extension to a temporary water use authorization must be accompanied by the appropriate filing fee of $350 (which includes up to 14 hours of staff time).
Information about Water Rights
A water right is a legal right to use surface water or groundwater under the Alaska Water Use Act (AS 46.15). A water right allows a specific amount of water from a specific water source to be diverted, impounded, withdrawn or used for a specific use during part or all of each year. When a water right is granted, it becomes appurtenant to the land where the water is being used for as long as the water is used. If the land is sold, the water right transfers with the land to the new owner, unless specifically exempted from the conveyance. In Alaska, because water wherever it naturally occurs is a common property resource, landowners do not have automatic rights to groundwater or surface water. For example, if a land owner/lessee has a creek running through his property, he will need a water right to authorize his use of a significant amount of water. Using water without a permit or certificate does not give the user a legal right to use the water.
To apply for a Water Right please see the Water Rights in Alaska page.