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The only current appeal involves the State of Arizona's claim that the state's school trust lands have federal reserved water rights. The Superior Court held that the "trust lands at issue here were not withdrawn from the public domain and reserved for a federal purpose and, therefore, as a matter of law, cannot be deemed to possess federal implied reserved water rights."
The Arizona Attorney General filed with the Arizona Supreme Court a petition for interlocutory review of the Superior Court's ruling. The Arizona Supreme Court granted the petition. On October 31, 2011, the Supreme Court designated the two issues on which it granted review, first, whether the Arizona Enabling Act requires that sufficient water be reserved for state trust lands to assure that those lands produce the full benefit for the trust purposes, and whether, and to what extent, the United States withdrew land from the public domain and reserved that property as state trust land.
Following a pre-submittal conference held on January 11, 2012, the Court set deadlines for opening, answering, and reply briefs as well as an amicus curiae brief from the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR). The State of Arizona has filed its opening brief. A large group of parties filed a joint answering brief. ASARCO LLC and Catalyst Paper (Snowflake) Inc. filed a separate joint answering brief. ADWR filed an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief.
The Court has scheduled oral argument on June 12, 2012, at 3:00 p.m. Each side will have twenty-five minutes.
Special Procedural Order for Non-Indian Water Rights Settlements, Gila River Adjudication and Little Colorado River Adjudication: This matter involves establishing a process for the Court to consider and review non-Indian water right settlement agreements. After considering comments filed by numerous parties, the Court prepared and distributed a draft order. The Court set a deadline of July 27, 2012, for new comments concerning the binding effect of an approved settlement on non-signatory claimants, the contents of a technical report prepared by the Arizona Department of Water Resources, and the administration of an approved settlement. A hearing will be held on September 18, 2012, in Mesa, Arizona, to discuss all comments.
In re Hopi Tribe Priority: The Special Master held a telephonic conference on March 6, 2012, to review the status of the case and discuss the scheduling of oral argument on the pending motions for summary judgment as well as any matter that required consideration. Following the conference, he directed the United States, Hopi Tribe, and Navajo Nation to file a status report by June 15, 2012. The progress of this case may be influenced by proposed congressional legislation concerning a water rights settlement agreement involving the Hopi Tribe and the Navajo Nation.
Subflow Zone Map of the San Pedro River Watershed: On January 24, 25, and 26, 2012, the Court held an evidentiary hearing on the comments filed to the June, 2009, technical report of the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR). The report contained a proposed map of the subflow zone. Following the hearing, the Court directed ADWR to prepare a report detailing the prospective work to be undertaken in an effort to delineate the subflow zone. The Court requested from the parties proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law with comments.
The department filed its report on April 20, 2012. The report includes text, tables, figures, and appendices, and will be available for download from ADWR's website. Copies of the report in both electronic version and paper may be purchased from ADWR.
In re San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area: The Special Master granted the request of the Arizona Department of Water Resources to extend the time to file the department's next technical report to May 31, 2012. It is anticipated that the quantification of federal reserved water rights will be the next phase of this case.
In re Fort Huachuca: The Special Master granted the request of the St. David Irrigation District and Babacomari Ranch Company, LLLP to intervene in the next phase of this case and participate as litigants. The next phase, which will address quantification issues, is proceeding through timelines for disclosures and discovery.
In re Redfield Canyon Wilderness Area: The Special Master began a new contested case to resolve the objections arising from the Final Hydrographic Survey Report for the San Pedro River Watershed concerning the claimed reserved water rights of the United States in the Redfield Canyon Wilderness Area. The case initiation order designates seven issues for briefing, and sets times for disclosure statements, discovery, and motions. The Redfield Canyon Wilderness Area is located about 32 miles north of Benson, Arizona, in Graham and Cochise Counties.
In re Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness Area: On February 9, 2012, the Special Master allowed the filing of responses to comments submitted by other parties. The Special Master held a telephonic conference on March 28, 2012, to consider the comments submitted concerning the next phase of this case. Following the conference, the Special Master granted the request of the United States for a period of ninety days to investigate and report concerning the transmittal of maps and legal descriptions to Congress and the acreage contained within the Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness Area and denied the request to file a report with the Court concerning the Special Master's order dated November 2, 2011. The Special Master set an evidentiary hearing to consider five issues and requested a joint pre-hearing statement.
In re Powers Garden Administrative Site: The United States and Salt River Project (SRP) reported that they had reached a tentative agreement and are finalizing a stipulation to be filed with the Special Master to resolve SRP's objections. This case involves the claimed reserved water rights of the Coronado National Forest for the use and maintenance of a remote property. SRP objected to the nature and extent of the claimed water rights. The Special Master has determined the scope of the Coronado National Forest's claimed reserved water rights for irrigation and stockwatering.
In re Applications of Salt River Project for Injunctive Relief: In the matters involving respondents Henry, Kasper, Ray, and Stryker, on February 13, 2012, upon stipulation, the Court extended the date to August 20, 2012, for respondents to answer the Salt River Project's (SRP) motion for summary judgment.
Concerning the applications involving Respondents Robinson and Chester-Campbell, L.L.C., at the request of the parties, the Court extended the date for respondents to file an answer to SRP's motion for summary judgment to August 20, 2012. These two groups of cases in the Verde River Watershed are being litigated concurrently as they involve similar issues. The parties continue to explore a mutual resolution of the disputed issues.
Fund of Claimants' Filing Fees: The Special Master filed a copy of the December 2011 audit report prepared by the Clerk of the Maricopa County Superior Court for the fund of filing fees. The Clerk administers the fund of claimants' fees. The Maricopa County Treasurer manages the fund's investments. The Special Master's records, which include documents compiled by the Arizona Department of Water Resources, were used in the preparation of the report. The audit report did not make any recommendations.
For a calendar of proceedings and orders, visit the General Stream Adjudications website at http://www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/SuperiorCourt/GeneralStreamAdjudication/.
For reports, claims, objections, disclosure documents, and information, visit the website of the Arizona Department of Water Resources (Adjudications) at http://www.azwater.gov/AzDWR/SurfaceWater/Adjudications/default.htm
Link here to the calendar of proceedings.Site Requirements This site requires a PDF reader (such as Adobe Reader or another PDF reader) to view and print the prepared documents.