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Appellate court upholds water rights diversion for planned nuclear power plant via Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Court of Appeals said a district court judge did not err in upholding the state engineer’s decision to grant a diversion of 53,600 acre-feet of water from the Green River for a planned nuclear power plant.

In the ruling issued Thursday, the appellate court said HEAL Utah had failed to prove its case that the diversion of water rights was unlawful by being contrary to the public good, unsustainable or that the project wasn’t feasible.

The court pointed out that claims the Green River is part of a system that is already over-appropriated are not true in the sense that Utah has only developed about a million acre-feet of a 1.4 million acre-feet per year allocation under the Colorado River Compact.

Additionally, the court said there are 574,000 acre-feet of approved but undeveloped water rights in the system, including the water owned by the conservancy districts but destined for use at the nuclear power plant.

The court also rejected the reasoning that the project is speculative or not feasible, noting that Utah is the third fastest growing state in the United States and will require an additional 1,440 megawatts of power by the year 2025. Blue Castle’s project would produce 3,000 megawatts of power.

Matt Pacenza, executive director of HEAL Utah, said his group and other challengers to Jones’ decision are disappointed in the ruling and have not yet decided if they will appeal.


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