Land Owners Lose Supreme Court Water Rights Case Skip to content

Land Owners Lose Supreme Court Water Rights Case

The Supreme Court of Iceland confirmed yesterday that the landowners of Jökulsá á Dal and Fljótsdalur would not receive additional compensation for water rights at Kárahnjúkar hydropower plant in East Iceland.


The construction of Kárahnjúkar dam. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

The issue has been ongoing for eight years. An independent committee set up to look into the matter estimated that the value of the water rights was about 1.4 percent of the total initial estimated cost of the power plant, or ISK 1.54 billion (USD 125 million, EUR 96 million). The East Iceland District Court concluded last year that this estimate was correct.

Landowners said the evaluation was an outrage and subsequently took the case to the Supreme Court, reports.

According to, 61 landowners own water rights in Jökulsá á Dal. According to a report by Landsvirkjun, the National Energy Company which operates the dam, landowners demanded ISK 96 billion (USD 779 million, EUR 597 million) for the water rights of Kárahnjúkar, about the same amount as the estimated construction cost of the plant at the time.

The Supreme Court confirmed the committee’s estimate of ISK 1.54 billion yesterday.


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