Tribune seeks water records for NSA’s Utah Data Center
Published: March 12, 2014 09:02AM
Updated: March 18, 2014 09:20AM
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Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune An aerial view of the NSA's Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah, Thursday, April 18, 2013. T

Military and national security reporter Nate Carlisle wrote the post that follows. For more coverage of the National Security Agency’s Utah Data Center, follow carlisle on Twitter: @natecarlisle.

For months, people across the globe have been asking questions about the National Security Agency.

But even before the Edward Snowden leaks, The Salt Lake Tribune was asking a more focused question: What’s happening in Utah?

We’ve published mulitple stories about the NSA’s Utah Data Center and the global, national and local implications of work in which the Utah center is involved. On March 19, The Tribune will go before Utah’s State Records Committee to request that the committee order Bluffdale to disclose records showing how much water the data center consumes.

The seven-page document embedded above explains the news organization’s arguements for receiving the records. You can also find the document here.

At one point the Utah Data Center was expected to consume more than 1 million gallons a day, though it’s unclear if the facility is pouring, filtering and flushing that much yet. As described in the document, The Tribune filed a request under the Utah Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) request for the water records in December.

Bluffdale, which has the contract to sell water to the Utah Data Center, denied the request. The city cited a state statute barring the release of records that “ jeopardize the security of governmental property, governmental programs, or governmental recordkeeping systems from damage, theft, or ... use contrary to law or public policy.”

Bluffdale also cited the NSA’s own unwillingness to disclose the water usage records. GRAMA allows, in some cases, governments to withhold records the federal government provided to it. But the document argues the NSA never provided the records. They were created by Bluffdale to monitor water usage and send a bill.

As for the security concerns, the document makes multiple arguements against that.

The Tribune also is asking the records committee to address a fee dispute between the newspaper and Bluffdale. The city wants to charge $767. 45 for the records The Tribune received pursuant to a May 2013 GRAMA request and the one it made in December.

We’ll let you know what happens March 19.