Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Brown v. Utah Division of Water Rights

Last week, the Utah Supreme Court issued its opinion in Brown v. Division of Water Rights. This case began in 2006 when the Browns' neighbor applied to the Division for a stream alteration permit so that he could build a bridge across Little Cottonwood Creek. The Browns protested the permit, asserting that the bridge would diminish the Creek's ability to handle high water flow and would adversely impact the natural stream environment. Despite the Browns' protest, the Division issued the permit. The Browns filed a request for reconsideration, which the Division denied. The Browns then filed a petition for administrative review with the district court.

The neighbor filed a motion to dismiss the Browns' petition, arguing that the Browns lacked standing because they failed to allege a distinct and palpable injury. The district court agreed, and dismissed the Browns' petition for lack of standing. The Browns appealed to the Utah Court of Appeals, who affirmed the district court's decision. The Browns then appealed to the Utah Supreme Court. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and district court, holding that the Browns did have standing because their allegations established a reasonable probability of future injury. The case has now been remanded for additional proceedings consistent with the Utah Supreme Court's decision.

To read the full opinion, click here.

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