PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona water regulators have rejected an application by an electric company to use groundwater to cool the nuclear power plant west of Phoenix because the water is being used by nearby residents, officials said.

The state Department of Water Resources denied the request from Arizona Public Service Company to use groundwater in the Buckeye area and study it as an alternative to expensive reclaimed water because it is being used, The Arizona Republic reported Monday.

The permit requires water has no other beneficial use, state department officials said.

"The Department finds that this groundwater is currently being used beneficially and that this objection provides a valid reason to deny the application," officials said in the rejection letter.

Company officials have 30 days to file an appeal if they decide to do so, department officials said.

The permit would allow the electric company to blend groundwater with the treated wastewater from the 91st Avenue Wastewater Treatment Plant, officials said. The plan would have included drilling of a well near State Route 85 between Interstate 10 and the Gila River.

The utility has been looking for cost-effective solutions for water to power the nuclear plant in the future.

"If we don't get some kind of innovative approach to water, 20 or 30 years down the road, the costs would just be prohibitive," company executive Jack Cadogan said. "We've always known we would be looking for innovative, cost-effective solutions for water."

The Buckeye Water Conservation and Drainage District and Buckeye Irrigation Company filed a formal opposition to the electric company plan.

"We feel the director (of ADWR), after thoroughly reviewing the application and the opposition, made the correct decision," said Noel Carter, general manager of the Buckeye water district.

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Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com

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