Blue Castle Holdings Inc. on January 20 received approval from the State of Utah to use existing water rights for the Blue Castle Nuclear Plant Project (BCP) in Green River.
BCH leased the water over 4 years ago from the Kane County and San Juan County Water Conservancy Districts for the expected 60 years of plant operations. After a strict review of the Districts’ applications for changing the points of diversion, places of use, nature of use, and storage of water, Utah’s State Water Engineer approved the 53,600 acre feet of water per year from the Green River for the proposed nuclear electricity generation project.
The approved water for the BCP was allocated previously for electric generation by Utah’s State Water Engineer for use in coal fired power plants that were not constructed. The proposed two-unit Blue Castle Nuclear Project would increase the electricity generated in Utah by approximately 50%, adding between 2,200 to 3,000 Megawatts of installed electrical capacity, using less than 1% of the State’s current water diversion.
Aaron Tilton, CEO of BCH, commented on the decision: “We realized early on that there would be a detailed and deliberate process adjudicated by the State of Utah before the water rights were approved for use at the project. We are pleased that the State Water Engineer, after a thorough review of all requirements under State law, determined that the water was available for withdrawal from the river, that its use at the proposed new nuclear power plant site would not interfere with other water users, that the proposed plan is physically and economically feasible and would not prove detrimental to the public welfare and the environment.”
The firm Blue Castle Holdings has been proposing what would be Utah’s first nuclear power plant, and key to that development is water – a substantial diversion from the Green River.
The effects of that were the hotly-debated subject of a state engineer’s hearing in January.
The Blue Castle report on the hearing: It “presented testimony yesterday by expert witnesses at the hearing conducted by the State Water Engineer on the benefits and minimal impacts to Green River Basin of the use of 53,600
acre feet of water for the proposed nuclear power project in Utah. The hearing is one of the last steps for gaining the needed state approval to divert and use the water for the project.
“Thom Hardy, PH.D and Chief Science Officer of the River Systems Institute, provided data and testimony that water use by the project would not unreasonable affect the river environment or public recreation. Hardy represented, ‘The use of this water would not have any measureable changes to the chemistry, temperature, wild life, fish population, or recreational uses of the Green River. Even in times of draught, the use of the water for the project would only change the river depth by 1.5 inches or less than.’
“Also providing expert testimony for the company at the hearing was Jerry Olds, the former Utah State Water Engineer. He provided data and testimony to demonstrate sufficient unappropriated water exists in the Green River to use at the proposed power plant. Olds stated, ‘This is a very favorable location for the use of this water; it will not impair other users’ water rights.’”
Environmental groups, including the Utah River Keeper, argued that the Green River, the only still free-flowing part of the Colorado River system, is very sensitive environmentally, and the drawdown could do considerable environmental harm.