• A Historical Survey of Water Utilization in the Cook Inlet - Susitna Basin, Alaska

      Hunt, William R. (University of Alaska, Institute of Water Resources, 1978-06)
      The objectives of the study encompassed a scholarly investigation of the appropriate archival and published literature on the Cook-Inlet-Susitna Basin, and the publication of the articles and a book-length history of the utilization of water resources. There are many aspects of Alaskan history to which historians have not given serious attention. Certainly there has been no historical consideration of the importance of water resources in Alaska. Issues that have involved water use have either been treated journalistically or have been the subject of scientific monographs. The understanding of the public can sometimes be confused by the journalistic treatment of events while scientific reports are seldom read. There is a definite need for a well-researched, lively survey of an important spect of Alaska's history. Many years passed before systematic scientific work was carried out in the Cook Inlet-Susitna region but the uses of its water resources for sanitation, transport, food, and power were intensified as time passed. The region has had significance for well over 200 years to the western peoples who settled there and, of course, for much longer to its aboriginal inhabitants. There has never been a substantial history written of the region, although some aspects of its past have been surveyed in a few pub1ished works, and there has never been a historical survey of water utilization for any region of Alaska. Increasingly, the development of the region will involve political decision. The public scrutiny of the environmental impact of new dam and other construction is not likely to decline. Further petroleum leasing in the outer continental shelf areas will raise questions of the best uses which can be made of the water and other resources. The wisdom of these decisions depends upon our knowledge of all of the factors involved. An understanding of what has happened in the past as people have made use of the water resources could contribute to the effectiveness of judgments made in the future.