Vol. 25, No. 1
January-April 2017

Welcome to the Arizona General Stream Adjudication Bulletin

The Office of the Special Master publishes the Bulletin three times a year to provide information about proceedings in the Gila River Adjudication and the Little Colorado River Adjudication.



Editor: Barbara K. Brown
Office of the Special Master
Maricopa Superior Court
Central Court Building 3A
201 West Jefferson
Phoenix, AZ 85003-2205
Tel. 602-372-4115

The Bulletin relies on links so the entire document is available to our readers. Always check our What's New page for up-to-date notices and documents.

Gila River Adjudication

In re Fort Huachuca

The trial for water claims made by the United States for the operation of Fort Huachuca was completed in February and the parties are currently in the process of completing the post-trial briefing.

Cone of Depression Test

On January 27, 2017, the Arizona Department of Water Resources filed a Demonstration Project Report that included a Cone of Depression Test Methodology for the San Pedro River Watershed ("Report"). On March 15, 2017, a status conference was held to schedule the proceedings necessary to determine an appropriate Cone of Depression Test Methodology. At the status conference, counsel for the Arizona Department of Water Resources explained that the purpose of the test was to identify the wells to be included within the adjudication. During the next four months, the Arizona Department of Water Resources will provide its response to the comments received in March 2017 from the parties and the parties will file comprehensive objections and expert reports by August 18, 2017. The parties have also been requested to file proposals by the following week regarding a procedure to determine an appropriate methodology to demonstrate that a particular well is pumping subflow.

Claims for Water Rights for Irrigation

In re Arizona Chapter of the Nature Conservancy: Four contested cases have been initiated with respect to the claimant's uses of water from Aravaipa Creek which include claimed irrigation uses. The initial scheduling conference for these cases will be held on May 18, 2017.

In re Pomerene Water Users Association. In 1994, the objections to water rights claimed for the water distributed by the Pomerene Water Users Association were considered in the context of this contested case. The parties were prepared to proceed to trial in 1995, but a stay imposed on many matters in the Gila Adjudication resulted in the vacating of the scheduled trial date. The Special Master has now issued an order to continue the adjudication of the water rights at issue. A status conference is scheduled for June 28, 2017.

Claims for Water Rights for Stock Watering and Certain Stockponds and Domestic Uses

The court has approved an expedited process to adjudicate claims for stock watering, and certain stockpond and domestic uses. The court's order quantified or set a formula to quantify the amount of water to be included in the abstract for each particular qualifying use and fixed a procedure to determine the priority date.

In re Pima County: On November 30, 2016, the Special Master had issued draft abstracts for Pima County's claims for water that qualified for the expedited process and were included in the San Pedro Hydrographic Survey Report. The parties were permitted to file any proposed corrections by February 1, 2017. Based on the corrections filed, proposed abstracts were prepared and approved on March 27, 2017. Those proposed water right abstracts have been included in a partial catalog of water rights.

In re Sands Group of Cases: This case consolidated claims asserted by a number of parties for stock watering, and certain stockponds and domestic water uses that were expected to be adjudicated using an expedited process. In addition to water quantity and priority date, water right characteristics include a legal description of the place of use and the point of diversion. On March 24, 2017, the party who had volunteered to take the lead in the case filed 76 draft abstracts for one domestic use, 28 stockponds and 47 stock watering uses. The legal descriptions for the one domestic use and 27 stockponds matched the descriptions provided by ADWR in the watershed file reports or the legal descriptions in the Abstracts and Matrices filed by the parties on November 19, 1993 (1993 Matrices). With respect to the 47 stock watering uses, 21 legal descriptions matched ADWR's descriptions or the 1993 Matrices. Of the remaining draft abstracts 67% reported the legal descriptions for stock watering using a different approach than that adopted by ADWR. On April 20, 2017, Mr. H.T. Hendrickson, Jr., another party, filed 13 draft abstracts. In his report, Mr. H.T. Hendrickson, Jr., described a methodology for the preparation of legal descriptions using Google Earth to obtain the GPS coordinates of the claimed water uses. He converted the GPS coordinates to legal descriptions using legallandsurvey.com which he then field checked for accuracy. Mr. Hendrickson reported accuracy within approximately three seconds. As in the first set of abstracts, the legal description for the domestic use confirmed the watershed file report prepared by ADWR. The legal descriptions for all ten of the stockponds matched the descriptions in the watershed file reports. Again, as in the first case, the legal descriptions for stock watering were not uniformly consistent with the descriptions provided by ADWR. A status conference was scheduled for May 24, 2017, to address the issues raised by the water right abstracts and proposed protocols prepared by the party who took the lead for the preparation of draft abstracts. On April 26, 2017, the Special Master vacated all scheduled proceedings following the approval of SB 1412.

On April 24, 2017, SB 1412 was approved. It amended A.R.S. ยง45-257 to provide that certain claims for wells, stockponds and stock watering shall be deferred until all other claims in the specific subwatershed have been determined by the superior court. An exception in SB 1412 is created for claimants who also have claims for water that do not qualify as "Small Claims". The bill may be accessed using the following link: https://apps.azleg.gov/BillStatus/GetDocumentPdf/452522

Redfield Canyon

In re Redfield Canyon Wilderness Area: The court has made decisions on multiple motions in limine and for summary and partial summary judgment during the past four months. The parties have filed a joint pre-trial statement in anticipation of a trial scheduled for May 2017.

In re Redfield Canyon State Claims: This matter was initiated to adjudicate the claims for water use in the Redfield Canyon analyzed by the Arizona Department of Water Resources in seven watershed file reports. The initial scheduling conference is set for May 24, 2017.


Link here to the calendar of proceedings.

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