Alaska Statutes.
Title 46. Water, Air, Energy, and Environmental Conservation
Chapter 15. Water Use Act
Section 165. Administrative Adjudications.
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AS 46.15.165. Administrative Adjudications.

(a) The commissioner may, by order, initiate an administrative adjudication to quantify and determine the priority of all water rights and claims in a drainage basin, river system, ground water aquifer system, or other identifiable and distinct hydrologic regime, including any hydrologically interrelated surface and ground water systems.

(b) In the order initiating an administrative adjudication, the commissioner shall describe the appropriate geographic and hydrologic boundaries of the adjudication area. During the adjudication, the commissioner may adjust the boundaries to ensure the efficient administration of water appropriations among users.

(c) Upon initiation of the adjudication, the commissioner shall

(1) serve the order on each applicant, certificate holder, or permittee listed in the department's records within the adjudication area;

(2) serve the order on any agency of the federal, state, or a local government with management authority over land or water within the adjudication area;

(3) serve the order on any person who owns or claims land within the adjudication area if the land is held in trust by the United States for the person or if the patent, deed, or certificate to the land from the United States was issued under 25 U.S.C. 334 (Indian General Allotment Act of February 8, 1887, 24 Stat. 389, as amended and supplemented), 25 U.S.C. 372 (the Allotment Act of June 25, 1910, 36 Stat. 855), 43 U.S.C. 270-1, 270-2 (the Allotment Act of May 17, 1906, 34 Stat. 197), any other allotment act, or the Alaska Native Townsite Act of May 25, 1926, 44 Stat. 629, and serve the order on the United States on behalf of the person;

(4) serve the order on the United States and the appropriate governing body of the Annette Island Reserve established by 25 U.S.C. 495 (the Act of March 3, 1891, 26 Stat. 1101) if the land or water, including hydrologically interconnected water, of the Annette Island Reserve is within the adjudication area;

(5) serve the order on any other person claiming a federal reserved water right within the adjudication area;

(6) serve the regional corporation and village corporation established under 43 U.S.C. 1601 et seq. (Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act) that has a pending land selection or has acquired ownership to land under that act that is located within the adjudication area; and

(7) serve the order on each mining claimant of record with the United States and the state within the adjudication area as of the date of the order initiating the administrative adjudication.

(d) Service of an order under (c) of this section does not constitute an admission by the state that the person served with the order has a water right.

(e) Service of the order under (c)(1) of this section is sufficient if mailed by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address that the applicant, certificate holder, permittee, or claimant has given to the division of the department responsible for administration of water rights. A person served under (c)(1) - (7) of this section who fails to appear in a timely manner and assert a claim as prescribed by the commissioner is estopped from subsequently asserting an objection to the adjudication of that person's water rights within the adjudication area, unless the person is entitled to a federal reserved water right and has failed to consent under (k) of this section.

(f) In an adjudication under this section, the commissioner may appoint an impartial qualified person as a master to preside over the adjudication, to hold hearings, to take testimony, to collect evidence, to propose to the commissioner an order adjudicating the validity of, quantifying, and determining the priority of all water rights, and to take other action the commissioner decides is necessary.

(g) A state agency may assert a water right on behalf of the state in the adjudication.

(h) A division of the department or another state agency may provide documentary and testimonial evidence, research, and scientific analysis during the adjudication. The commissioner may provide evidence, research, or analysis from sources outside government.

(i) In conducting an adjudication, the commissioner may take action necessary for the efficient and fair administration and use of the state's water including

(1) determining indispensable, necessary, and convenient parties to the adjudication;

(2) classifying applicants, certificate holders, permittees, and claimants in groups that share similar interest, such as by the amount of water used or the type of use, and restricting their active participation in the adjudication by appointing group representatives for the purposes of receiving notices, examining witnesses, and other adjudicatory functions;

(3) entering interlocutory orders appropriate to a disposal of all or part of the issues in the adjudication, and designating the orders as final for the purposes of an appeal to the superior court under ( l ) of this section; and

(4) allocating to a participant the extra costs that the state has incurred in conducting the adjudication because the participant has in bad faith asserted a claim to water wholly without merit or has unreasonably delayed the proceeding.

(j) For the purpose of asserting a water right in an adjudication, a certificate issued under this chapter is prima facie evidence of the water right and its priority date.

(k) If the commissioner has initiated the adjudication and the federal government or a private person who has been served under (c)(2) - (4) of this section asserts a federal reserved water right but fails to consent in writing to the adjudication, then the commissioner may exclude the federal government or the person, respectively, as participants in the adjudication. The commissioner may negotiate the terms of the written consent.

(l) A person adversely affected by a final order of the commissioner adjudicating water rights under this section may appeal to the superior court within 30 days after the decision is mailed or delivered to the person.

(m) The commissioner may adopt regulations setting out procedures for administrative adjudications under this section.

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