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San Pedro Riparian Natural Conservation Area (“SPRNCA”):
The trial on the United States claims for federal reserved water rights for SPRNCA began at the end of January following motions and hearings caused by the partial shutdown of the federal government. Trial continued during much of February and March and is expected to be completed in May 2019.
At the direction of House Speaker Rusty Bowers, efforts are underway at the 2019 regular session of the Arizona State Legislature to appropriate non-lapsing funds from the general fund to streamline the general adjudications by using advances in technology to modernize the filing, docketing and document retrieval system. These advances would improve the accessibility, transparency, and efficiency of the adjudication by ultimately making the records available in electronic as well as paper form. See HB2124 (strike-everything amendment approved in Senate Appropriations Committee). To underscore the Legislature’s recognition of the bill’s significance, the measure includes important language:
The legislature intends the appropriated monies for personal services and employee-related expenditures related to the special water master in a line item in the appropriation to the supreme court in the general appropriation act for fiscal year 2019-2020.
Id. at Subsection C. While the measure awaits final approval in the Arizona Senate, the support of leadership in the Senate and the House provides the opportunity for a significant improvement to this important aspect of the proceedings.
Irrigation Claims in the San Pedro Watershed
The Arizona Department of Water Resources identified four major irrigation water users in the San Pedro HSR: Aravaipa Creek Water Users, Pomerene Water Users Association, St. David Irrigation District and Bayless & Berkalew Company.
The Aravaipa Creek Water Users is a general label applied to a group of individuals and entities diverting water to irrigate individual parcels of land within the Aravaipa subwatershed. During the past four months, objections have been settled for seven irrigation uses in the Aravaipa subwatershed. Abstracts listing the water right characteristics for those uses have been added to the Catalog of Proposed Water Rights. Contested cases to resolve objections to all of the remaining irrigation uses in this group have been initiated and those case are proceeding forward.
The Pomerene Water User Association terminated in 2018. The St. David Irrigation District has annexed portions of the land and facilities that were previously part of the Association. The large group of contested cases that were consolidated under In re Pomerene Water Users Association has since been separated and the cases dealt with individually. The cases associated with the annexed land were consolidated with the In re St. David Irrigation District contested case. Cases where the current owners appeared at a noticed hearing and indicated the intent to pursue water rights but are not part of the St. David Irrigation District are proceeding as individual contested cases. The remaining contested cases were dismissed following a series of hearings noticed to the objectors, claimants, and current landowners.
In April 2019 the St. David Irrigation District filed its amended statement of claimant. A status conference in In re St. David Irrigation District is scheduled in May 2019.
In re Hopi Priority: On March 11, 2019, Judge Brain issued a decision confirming Judge Ballinger’s 2009 order that the Hopi Tribe is precluded from asserting federal reserved water right claims in this adjudication to the extent such claims seek the right to water sources located within the Little Colorado River Basin that neither abut nor traverse Hopi lands.
In re Navajo Nation: The Arizona Department of Water Resources has completed its preliminary hydrographic survey report on the statements of claimant filed by the Navajo Nation and the United States for federal reserved water rights on the Navajo Nation for stock and wildlife watering, stockponds, and domestic, municipal, commercial and industrial use. Comments are due on June 7, 2019.
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.