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Interlocutory Appeals Related to Contested Cases No. W1-203 and W1-206, Gila River Adjudication: On July 13, 2010, the Arizona Supreme Court granted the motions of the United States and the Gila River Indian Community to voluntarily dismiss their petitions for interlocutory appeals WC-02-0001-IR and WC-02-0002-IR, respectively. The Salt River Project moved to voluntarily dismiss its cross-petition for interlocutory review. The dismissals were prompted by the fact the Supreme Court has approved the Gila River Indian Community water rights settlement which is currently being implemented. As the Supreme Court has issued its opinion in appeal WC-02-0003-IR involving the petition of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, the three petitions for interlocutory review that arose from these two contested cases have been resolved.
The Court was unable to meet with the Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources and other representatives on August 24, 2010. The meeting will be rescheduled. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss with representatives of the Department the current and prospective resources available for adjudication projects and other matters related to insuring that pending proceedings move forward expeditiously.
This matter is proceeding in both the Gila River and Little Colorado River Adjudications. The Special Master submitted his report to the Court, which is taking up the objections to the report. The Court set a hearing on September 13, 2010. The Arizona Attorney General, who represents the Arizona State Land Department, requested a short extension of time. The Court granted the request and set the hearing on September 29, 2010. The Special Master's report concluded that reserved water rights do not exist for the State Trust Lands.
In re Hopi Tribe Priority: The Special Master deferred the current briefing schedules following a telephonic conference held on May 5, 2010. The parties have reached a point where additional time is needed to work on a potential settlement involving the water rights claims of the Hopi Tribe. The parties involved in the settlement have agreed to present the terms of agreement to their clients. The terms will be presented to the Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation tribal councils this summer. If approved by both councils, the settlement will be considered by the other parties for approval. Thereafter, legislation will be introduced in the Congress, and upon enactment, the President would sign it into law.
Little Colorado River Adjudication Briefing Issues: At the request of the interested parties, the Court vacated the briefing on the issue suggested by Catalyst Paper (Snowflake) Inc. whether the Hopi Tribe is precluded from claiming a right to water associated with the Hopi Industrial Park based on aboriginal rights. The parties resolved this issue during the discussions of the pending settlement involving the water rights claims of the Hopi Tribe.
Subflow Zone Map of the San Pedro River Watershed: The Court has reviewed the 26 objections and comments filed by claimants concerning the "Subflow Zone Delineation Report for the San Pedro River Watershed" prepared by the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) pursuant to the Court's September 28, 2005, order. The report can be viewed on the Department's web site on the Adjudications page under "Subflow Zone Delineation Report for the San Pedro River Watershed." On March 15, 2011, the Court will hear the objections of several claimants that present substantive legal and technical issues. The Court directed ADWR to submit a report by December 31, 2010, identifying the objections and comments with which ADWR agrees or does not take issue and providing information in response to a specific objection or comment. The Court referred to the Special Master the task of proceeding in the best manner to determine the remaining objections and comments. The report, which includes numerous tables, color figures and maps, references, and appendices, shows the subflow zones along the San Pedro and Babocomari Rivers and Aravaipa Creek. The report is not a final determination of the location of the subflow zones in the San Pedro River Watershed, decisions that the Court will make.
In re San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area: On May 24, 2010, the Special Master lifted the stay on the preparation of a land status report, directed the Arizona Department of Water Resources to file the report, and allowed parties to comment on the report by August 16, 2010. On July 2, 2010, the Department filed the report. The report addresses the land size and certain land ownership issues related to the federal reserved water right claims of the United States for the conservation area. The report was delayed due to information and data issues that arose during preparation. A copy of the report in electronic or paper format can be obtained by calling the Department at 1-866-246-1414 or can be viewed on the Department's web site on the Adjudications page under "Land Ownership Report for the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA)." ASARCO LLC, Babacomari Ranch Company, LLLP, Freeport-McMoRan Corporation, Salt River Project, and the United States submitted comments concerning.
After two rounds of briefing legal issues, the Special Master considered suggestions for the next phase of this case. On July 14, 2010, the Special Master directed the United States to amend its statements of claimant to identify all claimed water rights and their attributes, including reserved and state law rights, for the conservation area and directed the Arizona Department of Water Resources to prepare a technical report concerning the claims of the United States. He also designated a steering committee marking the first time such a committee has been appointed for a contested case.
In re Fort Huachuca: On July 15, 2010, the Court concluded oral argument on the objections to the Special Master's report and took the matter under advisement. The Court held the first hearing on January 28, 2010, and at the conclusion requested supplemental briefing on the issue of the extent of the federal reserved water rights of the United States for Fort Huachuca. This issue arises from the broader question of what are the purposes of the fort if a reservation was intended. ASARCO LLC, Bella Vista Water Co., Inc., City of Sierra Vista, Freeport-McMoRan Corporation, Pueblo Del Sol Water Company, Salt River Project, and the United States filed briefs and responses. The matter is under advisement.
In re Applications of Salt River Project for Injunctive Relief: The applications involve several parties in the Verde River Watershed. After the Court granted the motion of the Wiertzema Family Trust to dismiss the Salt River Project's (SRP) application based on new information obtained, the Trust requested an award of attorney's fees, expert witness, and consultant fees. SRP opposed the motion. The Court requested memoranda from counsel on four questions and set oral argument. On June 21, 2010, after the conclusion of oral argument, the Court requested supplemental briefs, which have been filed. The matter is under advisement.
In the matter involving SRP and the NBJ Ranch, L.P., the parties filed a notice of pending settlement. They requested the Court to refrain from ruling on a proposed form of judgment and objections to the judgment. This matter was tried to the Court in October 2009, and went through post-hearing briefing.
Court approved mailing lists are unique to general stream adjudications. Litigants are required to provide to all parties copies of court papers they file. Because a general stream adjudication can involve thousands of claimants and litigants, in 1992, the Arizona Supreme Court approved a procedure in which claimants ask to be included on a mailing list that is used to distribute copies of documents to litigants. A Court approved mailing list is prepared for each contested case. This procedure satisfies constitutional due process requirements and facilitates the distribution of documents.
The current Court approved mailing lists are dated July 29, 2010. The lists contain all litigants and address changes known to the office of the Special Master as of July 29, 2010. The date will remain the same until January 2011, although changes will be regularly incorporated until then.
William D. Baker: Mr. Baker, a longtime Arizona water and real estate attorney, passed away on May 3, 2010. He was a member of the Arizona and California State Bars and was admitted to practice in the Unites States Supreme Court. Over his 50 years in Arizona, Mr. Baker served in numerous areas of community service including being a member of the Governor's Advisory Council, Arizona Environmental Planning Commission, Agri-Business Council, Legal Counsel for the State Republican Party, board of directors of the Maricopa County March of Dimes, trustee and Chairman of St. Luke's and the Lukesmen, and Special Legal Counsel for the State and National Boards of Accountancy.
Gregg A. Houtz: Mr. Houtz, who was with the Arizona Department of Water Resources since 1994, passed away on July 29, 2010. As Deputy Counsel with the Department's Legal Division, Gregg's work included Colorado River, Arizona Water Banking Authority, tribal water issues and settlements, underground storage and recovery projects, rural planning, and environmental issues. Previously, he worked as legislative counsel to the Secretary of the Interior, minority counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, District Director for Arizona U.S. Congressman Jay Rhodes, and as a private consultant.
Link here to the calendar of proceedings.
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