Vol. 25, No. 2
May-August 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

Subflow in the San Pedro River Watershed: On July 13, 2017, the court approved the revised Subflow Zone Delineation Maps prepared by the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) that identify the boundaries of the subflow zones within the San Pedro River watershed. The next step in the process involving subflow is to develop a cone of depression test that identifies the wells outside the lateral limits of the subflow zone that are subject to this adjudication. ADWR has prepared a Cone of Depression Test Methodology for the San Pedro River Watershed to which the parties submitted preliminary comments. On March 15, 2017, a status conference was held to schedule the proceedings necessary to establish an appropriate Cone of Depression Test Methodology. ADWR has responded to the preliminary comments from the parties and in August 2017, the parties filed comprehensive objections and expert reports. Trial will begin on March 5, 2018.

Claims for Water Rights for Irrigation Use: In its Hydrographic Survey Report for the San Pedro River Watershed (San Pedro HSR), the ADWR analyzed irrigation water uses and identified those individuals and organizations that use and provide irrigation water. As part of its Major Users Report, ADWR discussed four irrigation water users: Aravaipa Creek Water Users, Bayless & Berkalew Company, Pomerene Water Users Association, and St. David Irrigation District.

The Aravaipa Creek Water Users is a general label applied to a group of individuals and entities diverting water to irrigate individual plots within the Aravaipa subwatershed. On May 4, 2017, a status conference was held in five contested cases involving the Arizona Chapter of the Nature Conservancy (TNC) which had acquired land for which claims had been made for for irrigation use. The Arizona Chapter of the Nature Conservancy requested a period of time to amend its statements of claimants and meet with objectors to its claims. Additional cases were initiated later in May and June 2017 to adjudicate TNC’s remaining claims in the Aravaipa subwatershed that included claims for instream use, stockponds, and stock and wildlife watering. The next status conference for the TNC cases will be held on December 15, 2017. In June and July, three contested cases were initiated to address objections to watershed file reports that included potential irrigation water rights to the Aravaipa Creek. At the initial hearing on August 23, 2017, the parties requested additional time to update filings and all parties requested additional time to allow the landowners and objectors to meet and address the objections filed to the watershed file reports. A status conference will be held on February 15, 2018.

On June 28, 2017, a status conference was held in In re Pomerene Water Users Association. According to counsel for the Pomerene Water Users Association, the Pomerene Canal has not been in operation for a number of years due to the drought and the condition of a dam. A subsequent order was issued on July 26, 2017 to all persons who may be successors in interest to those landowners who were named in a series of watershed file reports prepared by ADWR that reported on the use of water diverted from the Pomerene Canal. A second conference is scheduled for October 18, 2017, to ascertain the status of the Pomerene Water Users Association and evaluate the current status of claims for water from the Pomerene Canal for irrigation uses.

It is anticipated that in the coming months additional contested cases will be initiated to adjudicate the objections filed to claims made by individuals and entities for water for irrigation uses identified in Major Users section of the San Pedro HSR.

Claims based on Federal Reserved Water Rights

In re Fort Huachuca. In July 2017, the parties filed their post-trial briefings. The case is now under consideration.

In re Redfield Canyon Wilderness Area. The trial on the federal claims for water in the wilderness area concluded in May 2017 and it is now under consideration.

In re SPRNCA. In July 2017, the parties participated in a pretrial conference to schedule pretrial procedures and filings. In August 2017, the parties filed motions in limine which will be heard on October 5, 2017. Trial will begin on November 6, 2017, and is scheduled for seven weeks.

On May 18, 2017, the Special Master ordered the United States to identify its claims for water rights in federal wilderness area in the Gila River Adjudication for which it has not yet filed statements of claimant. The United States filed a comprehensive report that was the subject of a status conference on July 20, 2017. On August 29, 2017, the Special Master issued a schedule by which the United States shall file its statements of claimant for water uses in wilderness areas located in the San Pedro River Watershed.

Little Colorado Adjudication

In re Hopi Priority: The court denied the Hopi Tribe’s motion for reconsideration of the court’s 2016 decision. The Hopi Tribe has filed a motion requesting a final judgment regarding the court’s March 2, 2009 decision concerning the Hopi Tribe’s claims to off-reservation water and five issues included in the court’s 2016 decision. Oral argument on the motion is set for January 18, 2018.

In re Hopi Reservation HSR: On August 4, 2017, the Special Master granted the Hopi Tribe’s request for additional time to submit expert reports and amended the case management order accordingly. On August 24, 2017, the Special Master submitted a report to the court recommending that the Hopi Tribe’s claims for water from sources located outside the Hopi Reservation to be used on the Hopi Reservation be dismissed. The court will hear oral argument on objections to the Special Master’s report on January 18, 2018.


Link here to the calendar of proceedings.

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