North Slope Decision Support for Water Resource Planning and Management (DE-NT0005683)

Water is an essential component of the North Slope environment. Local communities use lakes and rivers for access to subsistence resources and to sustain those same resources and requisite habitat. As well, energy development in the region is inextricably tied to water resources. Oil and gas exploration and development require a great deal of freshwater to support ice road and ice pad construction, for drilling muds, domestic water supply, and to implement emerging enhanced oil recovery (EOR) methods.

Due to the fundamental role of water in natural and human systems, successful management of this resource is indeed essential to the broader issue of environmental protection and responsible energy development on the North Slope. The challenges of developing best management practices for water resources include the following: resource planning and management for efficient and sustainable water use; understanding and explicitly considering environmental impacts and protection; and developing and implementing effective participatory management strategies with representative stakeholder participation from all sectors.

Ice roads and ice pads provide a cost-effective means of oil and gas exploration with minimal impact to the sensitive underlying tundra. Consequently, these ice structures have become integral to oil and gas exploration activities on the North Slope. Their widespread use represents a challenge to water resource managers, however, due to the large volume of water required to construct and maintain them.

Data and Resources

Additional Info

Field Value
ISO Topics economy, inlandWaters, structure
Primary Contact William Schnabel
Other Contacts Amy Tidwell (Email:, Sandy McSurdy (Email:
Primary Organization US Department of Energy
Other Organizations University of Alaska Fairbanks
Organization Types Academic, Federal
Geo-keywords Alaska, North Slope
Start Date 2008-10-01
Created February 23, 2016, 01:43 (AKST)
Last Updated September 28, 2021, 14:11 (AKDT)