Vol. 26, No. 1
January-April 2018

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

Wells in the Gila River Watershed:

The parties completed discovery and participated in a six-day trial on the issue of whether the cone of depression methodology proposed by the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) should be adopted for purposes of defining the Court’s jurisdiction over wells in the San Pedro basin that are located outside the lateral boundaries of the subflow zone.

Motion to Designate an Issue of Broad Legal Importance Regarding Forfeiture of Pre-1919 Rights:

In 2017 the Ninth Circuit of Appeals entered a decision in United States v. Gila Valley Irr. Dist., 859 F. 3rd 789, finding, inter alia, that the Arizona Supreme Court had determined that statutory forfeiture applied to pre-1919 appropriative water rights. At the end of 2017, Salt River Project filed a motion stating that Arizona courts have not determined whether appropriative water rights acquired prior to the enactment of the 1919 Water Code are subject to loss for non-use based upon the forfeiture provisions of the 1919 Water Code. It contends that the Arizona Supreme Court did not resolve that issue in San Carlo Apache Tribe v. Superior Court, 193 Ariz. 195, 972 P. 2d 179 (1999) and requests that the Court hear the issue as one of broad legal importance. In January and February, numerous parties filed papers joining with and opposing SRP’s motion. Oral argument on the motion was held on April 19, 2018, in front of Judge Brain. The motion was taken under advisement.

Use of Track 1 Procedures in Contested Cases for Irrigation Uses:

Track 1 procedures authorized by §8.02 of Rules for Proceedings before the Special Master by ADWR were implemented for three cases involving irrigation uses from Aravaipa Creek. The Arizona Department of Water Resources has filed meeting reports for two of the cases indicating that progress had been made between the claimant and the objectors and that the claimants would be providing additional information concerning their claims to ADWR and the objectors within 30 days of the meeting date. A third meeting report will be filed in May 2018.

Completed cases:

Three cases have been completed during the past four months. Abstracts for 16 uses in In re PWR 107 Claims (W1-11-1174) have been agreed to by the parties, reviewed by ADWR and approved by the Court. In two other cases, In re Arizona Chapter of the Nature Conservancy-Wood and Westerfield Diversions (W1-11-3304) and In re Arizona Chapter of the Nature Conservancy-In re Aravaipa Creek II (W1-11-3388), the claimant has withdrawn all statements of claimant analyzed in the watershed file reports that were the subject of the contested cases.

Proposed Abstracts of Water Rights:

The Arizona Department of Water Resources has created a database of proposed water right abstracts approved by the Special Master. The database will include aerial and topographic maps of the locations listed in the proposed abstracts. Fifty-six proposed abstracts have been added to the Special Master’s Catalog of Abstracts in the last four months and an additional 59 proposed abstracts are in the process of being reviewed by ADWR or subject to corrections by the parties in the individual cases.

Little Colorado Adjudication

In re Hopi Reservation HSR:

A pretrial conference was held on March 29, 2018, to set deadlines for the filing of motions and depositions and schedule oral argument on the motions. A six-week trial is scheduled to begin on September 11, 2018, on the Hopi Tribe’s claims for water rights based on past and present uses.

In re Lower Little Colorado River Subwatershed CV6417-400:

The initial proceedings necessary to consider claims for water uses in the Lower Little Colorado subwatershed have begun. The Arizona Department of Water Resources is in the process of preparing two reports. One report is a technical report on stock and wildlife watering and stockpond claims and their respective impact on the available water sources in the subwatershed. This report, which will be filed on May 31, 2019, will then be subject to objection and a hearing to determine whether de minimis procedures can be appropriately applied for the listed uses. In addition, ADWR is working on a hydrographic survey report to analyze all claims for water use in the Lower Little Colorado River subwatershed. The preliminary report will be filed and available for comment on May 31, 2021.


Link here to the calendar of proceedings.

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