Arizona General Stream Adjudication Bulletin
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The Court is considering ways to improve the adjudications given the reduced levels of funding and staff of the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR). This process began in October 2012, when Court appointed committees submitted a report. Thereafter, based on the report, several parties requested a conference to address current and future litigation priorities in the Gila River Adjudication. A joint hearing of both adjudications was held on April 25, 2013.
On July 2, 2013, the Court issued an order finding that "it appears appropriate to transfer the Fort Huachuca, San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area and Aravaipa Canyon cases to the Court in the near future." The Court did not find merit in several other suggestions.
The Court requested proposals for transferring the Fort Huachuca case. ASARCO LLC, Freeport-McMoRan Corporation, the United States, and collectively, the Salt River Project, San Carlos and Tonto Apache Tribes, Yavapai-Apache Nation, Bella Vista Water Co., Inc., Pueblo Del Sol Water Company, and the City of Sierra Vista filed proposals for the transfer of the case.
In its order, the Court stated that there appeared "to be a broad consensus, and the Court agrees, that the Hydrographic Survey Reports should be cut back to the minimum requirements of the existing statutes." ADWR was invited to submit a proposal "to the extent it believes (or is concerned that) the statutes are unclear." ADWR reported that it believes the relevant statutes are clear and allow ADWR to use its resources judiciously to provide technical assistance to the Court.
In re Hopi Tribe Priority: On April 24, 2013, the Special Master filed a report with the Court concerning the priorities of water rights on the Hopi Indian Reservation. Arizona Public Service, Arizona State Land Department, City of Flagstaff, Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Salt River Project, Tucson Electric Power, the United States, and a group of claimants designating themselves the "LCR Claimants" filed objections to the report. Freeport-McMoRan Corporation joined in the objections filed by Arizona Public Service. These parties filed responsive memoranda. The matter awaits the Court's consideration.
The Arizona Department of Water Resources filed comments indicating that it does not have sufficient resources to investigate the claimed water rights for four ranches described in the Special Master's report. The Hopi Tribe responded to these comments.
Final Hydrographic Survey Report for the Hopi Indian Reservation (Final Hopi HSR): The Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) has been working to complete this HSR. On June 10, 2013, ADWR informed the Court "that the Final Hopi HSR could be filed no later than September 1, 2015, and perhaps earlier, depending upon other adjudication work." Following ADWR's submission of the Preliminary HSR in December 2008, several parties submitted extensive comments, the Court ruled in a matter relevant to the scope of the HSR, the Hopi Tribe and the United States amended their claims, and the Special Master submitted a report concerning the priorities of certain water rights claimed by the Hopi Tribe and the United States. Once the Final Hopi HSR is completed, ADWR will need to comply with notification and publication requirements applicable to a final HSR.
In re San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area: This case is addressing quantification and land boundary issues. On May 29, 2013, the Special Master designated three issues for an evidentiary hearing, ruled on several related issues, and set two issues for briefing. The briefing of the two quantification issues is proceeding. The Special Master requested the Steering Committee to recommend time lines for filing disclosure statements, commencing and completing discovery, filing expert reports, filing substantive motions including motions in limine on the issues designated for hearing, and scheduling a status conference. The committee's recommended time lines were adopted.
In re Fort Huachuca: This case is addressing quantification issues. Following a telephonic conference held on June 11, 2013, the Special Master set new time lines for exchanging expert reports, completing discovery, filing prehearing motions, holding a conference, and scheduling an evidentiary hearing. The parties currently engaged in discovery were encouraged to focus on the issues being litigated. The new time lines were set to assure a smooth transition should this case be transferred to the Court.
In re PWR 107 Claims: According to the last annual status report filed by the San Carlos Apache Tribe, negotiations to resolve this case had ended. The Special Master held a telephonic conference on June 11, 2013, to explore and consider ways to conclude this matter. The Special Master gave the United States and San Carlos Apache Tribe ninety days to exercise best efforts to reach a mutual resolution. The Special Master suggested that the parties consider a conditional water right with appropriate, even new, standards. A schedule to implement an agreement was set should one be reached.
In re Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness Area: This case is also considering quantification issues. On May 2, 2013, the Special Master denied the motion of the United States for a temporary stay and requested a status report on the funding for the work of the federal expert witnesses. Fiscal concerns prompted the motion for a temporary stay. The Special Master temporarily suspended all pending future time lines until the report was filed. After considering the report of the United States concerning its fiscal situation, the Special Master terminated the suspension and set new time lines for proceeding with this case. On August 14, 2013, the Special Master granted the Arizona Department of Water Resources' request for additional time until February 14, 2014, to submit previously requested information.
In re Powers Garden Administrative Site: The United States, Gila River Indian Community, Salt River Project, San Carlos and Tonto Apache Tribes, and the Yavapai-Apache Nation filed a stipulation resolving the objections filed to the two claims of the United States. The United States submitted written evidence that Mr. Anthony J. Lunt had withdrawn his objections to both claims.
The claims were reported in the Final Hydrographic Survey Report for the San Pedro River Watershed. The stipulation included two proposed abstracts of water rights. The claims involve a spring with a federal reserved water right for purposes of preserving timber and securing favorable water flows. A stockpond used for necessary livestock watering supporting the principal purposes is associated with the spring.
Pursuant to a prior order, the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) submitted its technical review of the stipulation and abstracts. ADWR found three exceptions to one abstract and four to the second abstract. No objections or comments were filed to the stipulation, proposed abstracts of water rights, and ADWR's recommendations during the thirty-day objection period. The Special Master will file a report with the Court.
In re Applications of Salt River Project for Injunctive Relief: These matters involve applications for injunctive relief filed by the Salt River Project (SRP) against several water users in the Verde River Watershed. SRP filed a motion for summary judgment. In the matters involving Respondents Linda S. and Paul R. Robinson and Chester-Campbell, L.L.C., upon the request of the parties, the Court extended the date to respond to SRP's motion to November 25, 2013. The parties have indicated that they are engaged in an administrative severance and transfer proceeding in order to attempt settlement of this matter. In the matters involving Respondents Robinson and Chester-Campbell, L.L.C., at the request of the parties, the Court extended the date to February 24, 2014.
The opinions of the Arizona Supreme Court that have decided interlocutory appeals in the Gila River Adjudication are commonly called the Gila opinions and are enumerated in chronological sequence. The following are the citations for the nine Gila opinions issued to date.
Gila I - In the Matter of the Rights to the Use of the Gila River, 171 Ariz. 230, 830 P.2d 442 (1992) (procedures for filing and service of pleadings).
Gila II - In re the General Adjudication of All Rights to Use Water in the Gila River System and Source, 175 Ariz. 382, 857 P.2d 1236 (1993) (test for determining existence of subflow).
Gila III - In re the General Adjudication of All Rights to Use Water in the Gila River System and Source, 195 Ariz. 411, 989 P.2d 739 (1999), cert. denied sub nom. Phelps Dodge Corp. v. U.S. and Salt River Valley Water Users' Assn. v. U.S., 530 U.S. 1250 (2000) (federal reserved rights, non-appropriable groundwater, and enforcement).
Gila IV - In re the General Adjudication of All Rights to Use Water in the Gila River System and Source, 198 Ariz. 330, 9 P.3d 1069 (2000), cert. denied sub nom. Phelps Dodge Corp. v. U.S., 533 U.S. 941 (2001) (test for determining existence of subflow).
Gila V - In re the General Adjudication of All Rights to Use Water in the Gila River System and Source, 201 Ariz. 307, 35 P.3d 68 (2001) (purpose and amount of water reserved for federal enclaves and Indian reservations).
Gila VI - In re the General Adjudication of All Rights to Use Water in the Gila River System and Source, 212 Ariz. 64, 127 P.3d 882 (2006), rec'n denied, 212 Ariz. 470, 134 P.3d 375 (2006), cert. denied sub nom. San Carlos Apache Tribe v. Arizona and Phelps Dodge Corp. v. San Carlos Apache Tribe, 549 U.S 1156 (2007) (Contested Case No. W1-206, Preclusive Effect of the Globe Equity Decree on Specified Parties, preclusive effect of prior decree).
Gila VII - In re the General Adjudication of All Rights to Use Water in the Gila River System and Source, 217 Ariz. 276, 173 P.3d 440 (2007) (Contested Case No. W1-208, Tohono O'odham Nation Water Rights Settlement, approval of water rights settlement).
Gila VIII - In re the General Adjudication of All Rights to Use Water in the Gila River System and Source, 223 Ariz. 362, 224 P.3d 178 (2010) (Contested Case No. W1-207, Gila River Indian Community Water Rights Settlement, approval of water rights settlement).
Gila IX - In re the General Adjudication of All Rights to Use Water in the Gila River and Little Colorado River System and Source, 231 Ariz. 8, 289 P.3d 936 (2012) (Contested Case No. W1-104 and CV 6417-100, In re State Trust Lands, reserved water rights do not exist for State Trust Lands).
Link here to the calendar of proceedings.
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