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Utah water-use data study underway

Two Utah engineering firms are partnering to improve the quality of water-use data in the state.  The firms will use a $300,000 contract with the state to analyze how the Division of Water Resources can improve its data collection. Water-use data is more important than ever Utah is one of the driest states in the nation; usually only second to Nevada.  With a population that is expected to nearly double by 2060, meeting Utah’s growing water needs is a major


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Federal court upholds state’s right to stop natural gas pipeline under the Clean Water Act

Last Friday the Second Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“NYSDEC”) and their denial of a § 401 certificate under the U.S. Clean Water Act to Constitution Pipeline (a partnership among Cabot Oil & Gas Corp.; Oklahoma-based energy company Williams Cos.; Piedmont Natural Gas; and WGL). Denying Constitution Pipeline’s application effectively vetoed a $750 million plan for a 124-mile pipeline stretching from the Marcellus shale deposits in Pennsylvania to the Iroquois pipeline in


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Long fought water pipeline dispute over Nevada-Utah state line will finally get a federal hearing

A years-long fight over a plan to build a water pipeline along the Nevada-Utah state line to bring groundwater to Las Vegas is about to get a first-ever hearing before a federal judge in Nevada.  The pipeline could cost billions of dollars to build, but the Southern Nevada Water Authority says it may become essential if drought keeps shrinking the Lake Mead reservoir on the Colorado River which supplies 90% of Las Vegas’ drinking water. State and federal go-aheads brought challenges

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Skyline mine expansion starts water fight in Emery County

Skyline mine expansion starts water fight in Emery County

In late March, the Huntington-Cleveland Irrigation Company filed a request for agency action to appeal a decision of the Utah Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining that approved an application by Canyon Fuel Company that sought a permit to initiate coal mining operations in the Flat Canyon Lease Addition for the Skyline Mine. Huntington-Cleveland Requests Agency Action on Skyline Mine Permit According to the request for agency action, “[t]he [a]ddition will allow Canyon Fuel to modify its mine plan to


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9th Cir. to decide tribal rights to groundwater

9th Cir. to decide tribal rights to groundwater

As the U.S. Supreme Court pointed out some forty years ago in its opinion in Colorado River Water Conservation Dist. v. United States, “It is probable that no problem of the Southwest section of the Nation is more critical than that of scarcity of water.”  The Supreme Court’s words still ring true today, as evidenced by the legal battle between the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and the Coachella Valley Water District over whether the tribe’s federally reserved water


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What amounts to an obstruction of water rights in Utah?

What amounts to an obstruction of water rights in Utah?

In a recent case before the Utah Court of Appeals, neighboring landowners went to battle over the purported obstruction and interference of an existing water right.  In Clearwater Farms, LLC v. Giles, The appellant (“Clearwater”) contended that the lower district court erred when it rejected the appellant’s claims for damages “on the basis that [the appellee (“Gileses”)] did not cause and interference or obstruction of [the appellant’s] water rights.”  However, the court of appeals disagreed, agreeing with the district court


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Level of Service Standard

Level of service standard class action denied appeal

A group of property owners who paid impact fees (“water availability charge”) recently sought to challenge a district court’s decision granting partial summary judgment in favor of the Washington County Water Conservancy District, which found that the level of service standard that allowed the impact fees to be assessed was legal and reasonable as a matter of law.  However, the Utah Supreme Court declined to grant interlocutory review to the class of property owners, holding that the case was not


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Utah Quality Growth Commission

Utah Quality Growth Commission enters watershed fray

In late August, the Utah Quality Growth Commission served as the latest forum for the seemingly never-ending debate between Salt Lake City water officials and private landowners over watershed management issues.  Private landowners have continually claimed that Salt Lake City’s “over-zealous” watershed protection has severely limited the landowners’ ability to develop their property in the Cottonwood canyons. Utah Quality Growth Act of 1999 In 1999, the Utah Legislature passed the Quality of Growth Act.  The Act was intended to address