Editor's note: There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the issuance of the go ahead for the change of diversion for the water for the proposed nuclear power plant. The nuclear power opponents have spoken openly about their beliefs that there isn't enough water to go around. I have been approached by Green River citizens that want the facts represented as far as the water goes. Here is some information regarding the water in the Green River and whether or not it is sufficient to sustain a nuclear power plant.
Emery County's Economic Development Director Mike McCandless has been involved with the proposed nuclear power plant from the beginning he explains, "The application is for 53,000 acre feet. For perspective, Joe's Valley Reservoir holds about 62,000 acre feet, and Joe's Valley does not store all of the water that is in that drainage. Several of the irrigation ditches in the county actually deliver more water than what this project will use. Many of the new irrigation pipelines for the Huntington Cleveland Project are substantially larger than the pipelines will be for this nuclear project water.
"Many people believe this is a huge percentage of the Green River water. Utah only "owns" about 11 percent of the water that is in the Green River and this allocation for the nuclear power plant is about 1 percent of that 11 percent. The other water that belongs to California, Nevada and Arizona keeps on flowing down the river and will continue to do so after the (nuclear plant) project is complete."
Regional Engineer for the Utah Division of Water Rights Marc Stilson said, "The applications were approved for a flow of up to 75 cubic feet per second (cfs). That is about the same volume of flow as what is in the Green River Irrigation Company's canal located on the west side of the river. Seventy-five cfs flowing continuously produces 149 acre-feet of water per day or 48,473,766 gallons per day. The annual limit authorized for diversion is 53,600 acre-feet.
"Tim Vetere (Green River farmer) does have an approved change application from a Wayne County water right changed to the Green River for diversion of up to 50,000 acre-feet per year. The water right number is 95-434." The point Stilson is trying to make is the water for the power plant isn't much more than water that is allocated for agriculture in the Green River area.
McCandless has been working with Blue Castle Holdings to bring the nuclear power plant to Green River City. He wants everyone to know this is not a massive amount of water. "It's similar to any large canal in use in Emery County. Utah citizens own the water, the State regulates the use of water," said McCandless.
In Green River 4,381,000 acre feet of water flows by each year, of that, 67,000 acre feet is depleted along the main stem of the Green. If the rest of Utah's allocation in the Colorado River compact were developed on the Green River there would be around 200,000 acre feet of additional depletion. On the entire Colorado River there is currently an estimated 1.1 million acre feet of actual depletion. The water the nuclear power plant has leased for use is included in the water rights approved for use, but not developed or put to use.
Stilson said, "There are a lot of approved applications that have not been put to use. One of the questions addressed in reviewing the Blue Castle Holdings application is whether or not the Colorado River has been over-appropriated." The state engineers office doesn't receive a lot of big applications like the one from Blue Castle Holdings. Stilson said there are some good studies out there and with 100 years of record keeping the average flow of the Green River is 15 million acre feet.