House District 36 Rep. Dan Ortiz introduced a resolution Monday pushing for water monitoring on several transboundary rivers in Southeast Alaska.
House Joint Resolution Nine is different from a similar measure Ortiz pushed for in 2015, asking for involvement from the International Joint Commission. That’s a U.S.-Canada panel that addresses transboundary water issues.
Ortiz’s current resolution only asks that the two federal governments work together.
“That was done for a couple of reasons. One is that the federal delegation has already made that request of the State Department,” Ortiz explained. “Also, by stating directly the IJC, we felt like we were eliminating potential other avenues where we could pursue cooperation, other agreements through the state of Alaska [and] the B.C. province on the issue.”
Ortiz added monitoring efforts could also take shape within the state’s recent memorandum of understanding with British Columbia. The agreement, signed in October, does include water monitoring efforts, but it’s not clear what those will look like. Ortiz cited pollution leaking from the Tulsequah Chief Mine into the Taku River near Juneau as one of the many reasons to stay on top of water quality.
Minister of Mines Bill Bennett announced the province will work to clean up the Tulsequah in January.
Southeast representatives Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkis, Stika, and Justin Parish, Juneau, are cosponsoring the resolution. House Majority leader Chris Tuck and Rep. Geran Tarr are also in support.