Vol. 16, No. 1
January-April 2008

Welcome to the Online Arizona General Stream Adjudication Bulletin

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



Office of the Special Master
Maricopa Superior Court
Central Court Building 5B
201 West Jefferson
Phoenix, AZ 85003-2205
Tel. 602-372-4115

The Bulletin relies on links as we believe that making a copy of the entire document available to our readers is better than a short summary. Always check our What's New page for up-to-date notices and documents.

Arizona Supreme Court Interlocutory Appeals

In re Proposed Gila River Indian Community Water Rights Settlement, Interlocutory Appeal No. WC-07-0001-IR (Contested Case No. W1-207), Gila River Adjudication: This appeal is pending a decision of the Arizona Supreme Court. Remaining to be decided are the petitions for interlocutory review filed by the Lower Gila Water Users, the Apache Tribes (San Carlos Apache Tribe, Yavapai-Apache Nation, and Tonto Apache Tribe), and ASARCO LLC. The petitions seek review of the Superior Court's approval of the settlement agreement.

On January 11, 2008, the Supreme Court granted the motion of the Apache Tribes for leave to supplement the Tribes' petition, ordered that the original petition as supplemented shall be treated as a petition from the Superior Court's judgment and decree, and set deadlines, now expired, for filing supplemental responses and replies.

Joint Adjudications Hearing on Department Funding and Staffing

Following a joint hearing and consideration of two reports, the Court directed the Arizona Department of Water Resources to undertake work in the San Pedro River Watershed in compliance with the mandates set forth in the Court's September 28, 2005, order; continue with the preparation of the subflow zone map for the San Pedro River Watershed, the inventory of de minimis domestic, stockpond, and stockwatering uses in that watershed, and the Hopi Reservation HSR in the Little Colorado River Adjudication; and commence investigations in the Verde River Watershed. The Court will hold a hearing on July 17, 2008, to get up to date on the Department's progress with the schedules and consider modifications if needed. The Department has a staff of twelve working on the adjudications.

Court Approved Mailing Lists

The Court approved mailing lists are updated as changes occur. Although the list date remains the same, the posted lists contain all changes. Changes are promptly reported in the What's New page under Recent Address Changes. The Arizona Department of Water Resources prepares the mailing lists designated Gila River Adjudication, W-1, W-2, W-3, W-4 (Consolidated) and Little Colorado River Adjudication, Civil No. 6417. The Special Master prepares the other lists. The objective is to post new lists in January and July or every six months.

Little Colorado River Adjudication

The Court set oral argument to address the issue of whether the United States and the Hopi Tribe "are precluded from claiming a right to water from surface streams that are located within the Little Colorado River Basin, but do not traverse any part of the Hopi Reservation" and referred to the Special Master "the question of whether the claims to water rights asserted by, or on behalf of the Hopi Tribe in this adjudication have a priority of 'time immemorial' or are otherwise senior to the claims of all other claimants." These issues arose from lists submitted by claimants identifying potential briefing matters.

The Special Master will hold a telephonic conference on May 12, 2008, to discuss the organization of a contested case to determine the referred question. The following matters will be addressed: scope of the case, filing of additional disclosure statements, formal and informal discovery, the Arizona Department of Water Resources' design of an online data base, filing of motions, responses, and replies, oral argument, evidentiary hearings (and their location), and any other matters that will expedite the case.

Gila River Adjudication

In re Proposed Gila River Indian Community Water Rights Settlement: Following the entry of a judgment and decree on September 13, 2007, the Gila River Indian Community filed requests for costs and for sanctions in the form of attorneys' fees against the Lower Gila Water Users. The Water Users moved to strike both motions and requested sanctions against the Community for requesting costs. The Court denied the Community's request for attorneys' fees but granted costs of $4,912.25 against the Water Users.

Contested Case No. W1-205: On September 23, 1999, the United States, the Gila River Indian Community, and the Roosevelt Water Conservation District filed an application for an order for special proceedings to approve a settlement involving these claimants. On September 27, 1999, the Court issued a minute order that assigned the application docket number W1-205, but stated that an order for special proceedings would be entered after December 31, 1999. Since then, the application has pended without further action. On February 19, 2008, the Community and the District moved to dismiss the application as the judgment and decree entered in W1-207 on September 13, 2007, became enforceable before December 31, 2007. The Court has not ruled on the request to dismiss.

In re State Trust Lands: Responses and replies concerning objections to the Special Master's report have been filed. The New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands filed a motion for leave to file a brief as a "friend of the court." The Court has not ruled on the request. The Special Master concluded that reserved water rights do not exist for the State Trust Lands.

In re San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area: The Special Master granted the requests of the Cities of Phoenix and Mesa to withdraw their objections and be removed as litigants from this contested case.

In re Fort Huachuca: The Special Master filed his report concerning the issues he had designated for briefing. The Special Master found that certain areas of the fort, but not others, may hold federal reserved water rights. Any claimant in the Gila River Adjudication may file objections and comments to the report on or before October 1, 2008, with responses due on December 1, 2008.

In re PWR 107 Claims: After holding a hearing on the objections to the Special Master's partial report, the Court found that approval of the "recommendations will not adversely affect any substantive water right held by those opposing approval or any potential senior water right claimant" and approved the report and adopted the Special Master's recommendations. On April 11, 2008, the Court entered a partial decree which adjudicated fourteen federal reserved water rights based on the April 17, 1926, Executive Order designated Public Water Reserve No. 107 and dismissed eight other claims. The water rights are for certain springs located on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

In re Powers Garden Administrative Site: The Special Master granted the request of the United States to extend the time for the Coronado National Forest to file amendments to its claims, and similarly extended the time for other claimants to file motions to intervene and comments. The Special Master commenced this contested case in the San Pedro River Watershed to determine the claimed water rights of the Coronado National Forest to the Powers Garden Administrative Site, a historic site located 20 miles south of Klondyke, Arizona, in the Galiuro Mountains.

In re Applications of Salt River Project for Injunctive Relief Re Respondents NBJ Ranch, L. P., Kovacovich Investment, L. P., and Wiertzema Family Trust: Finding that "there are genuine disputes regarding material facts," the Court denied the Salt River Project's motion for partial summary judgment. The Court will hold a Scheduling Conference on May 9, 2008, to reset the continued evidentiary hearing and any remaining pre-hearing deadlines. Pursuant to stipulation, the evidentiary hearing set on April 22-24, 2008, was continued. The applications involve claims to surface water rights, including subflow, in the Verde River Watershed.

Belsher Investments, L. P.'s Application for Injunctive Relief Re Respondent Michael L. Golder: This matter involves claims to surface water rights in the Upper Salt River Watershed. The Court held an evidentiary hearing on January 22, 2008. The Court found that Belsher Investments, L. P. satisfied its burden of proof to demonstrate that Mr. Golder lacks a colorable claim to a water right and granted the application for injunctive relief. The Court has adopted the colorable claim standard in other matters involving injunctive relief.

Belsher Investments has filed proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, and injunction and has requested its attorneys' fees. Mr. Golder has filed objections to the proposed injunctive order and a request to dissolve or modify the injunction or in the alternative for security on the injunction. The Court has not ruled on the requests.

In re the Water Rights of the Gila River Indian Community (W1-203) and In re the Preclusive Effect of the Globe Equity Decree on Specified Parties (W1-206): When these cases were commenced, an index of the disclosures of information was prepared for each case and maintained in an online data base. Over 20,000 documents were indexed. The data base was designed and hosted by out-of-state service companies, and during its existence it traveled coast-to-coast. Recently, a new data base was built which is hosted locally. There are no differences in content or format, and local hosting will result in cost savings. Special thanks go to our users who tested the site and contributed suggestions.

Other News

Patti Connolly: Patti Connolly, whom we called our "Water Case Court Reporter," has retired. Patti was a first rate reporter with great command of all those unique water law terms - the "saturated floodplain Holocene alluvium" never fazed her. We will miss her cheerful personality and special can-do attitude.


Link here to the calendar of proceedings on the Special Master's web site.

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