Vol. 29, No. 2
May-August 2021

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.



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. The Active Cases page provides copies of orders issued in the cases currently in process.

Gila River Adjudication

Irrigation Cases

Thirty-nine cases involving claims for water rights for irrigation uses have been initiated in the Sierra Vista Watershed. Four of those cases have been completed. At this time, the remaining cases in the watershed investigated by ADWR that involve irrigation uses cannot be initiated primarily because the source of water for the claimed use is supplied by wells located outside the subflow zone. It is anticipated that in the coming months, new cases will be initiated to adjudicate claims for water rights for irrigation use in the Benson Watershed where the source of water is appropriable water not supplied by the St. David irrigation district.

In re Subflow Technical Report, Verde River Watershed, contested case no. W1-106

A revised timeline has been set for Arizona Department of Water Resources to file its Subflow Technical Report for the Verde River Watershed. The subflow technical report for the main stem of the Verde River and Sycamore Canyon is due by December 31, 2021 with objections to the report due by May 2, 2022. Any objections to the report will be resolved by trial beginning on August 17, 2023. Additionally, a Subflow Technical Report for the remainder of the Verde River Watershed is due by April 30, 2023 and objections to that report are due by October 27, 2023.

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Little Colorado Adjudication

In re Hopi Reservation HSR case no. CV 6417-203

On September 9 & 10, 2021 the Special Master and the active parties in the litigation attended a site tour of the Hopi Reservation organized by the Hopi Tribe. Closing arguments scheduled on September 30th and October 1st, 2021 will conclude the second phase of the trial on the claims for water rights asserted by the United States and the Hopi Tribe.

In re Reporting of Diversion Information and Other Objections, case no. CV 6417-33-9005R

On June 17, 2021, a status conference was held that concerned the Silver Creek Subwatershed. During the next several months, the focus in the subwatershed will be on proceedings to establish an approved summary procedure to adjudicate the claims for de minimis stockpond and stock watering uses that were the subject of the Special Master's Memorandum Decision dated April 20, 1994 filed under docket number CV6417-33-9005. A new case, CV6417-33-9005R, was initiated to create a separate docket for the proceedings.

Funding for General Stream Adjudication

In the last legislative session, the Arizona Legislature created and funded a General Adjudication Personnel and Support Fund that the Arizona Supreme Court will administer. The monies in the fund will be used by the Court and the Arizona Department of Water Resources for additional personnel, services, and equipment to advance the General Adjudication. On August 11, 2021, Judge Brain, the Special Master and the Administrative Office of the Courts ("AOC") met with the Arizona Department of Water Resources ("ADWR") to discuss an expenditure plan required by the statute that will be submitted to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee for approval. The Arizona Department of Water Resources proposes to use a substantial portion of this new funding to hire additional staff necessary to complete technical and hydrographic survey reports and respond to investigative requirements as new cases are initiated. Due to the schedules adopted for the General Adjudication, additional teams are needed within ADWR to map watersheds and investigate claims and provide the Court with the necessary technical support.

The legislature also provided funds for the Natural Resource Use and Management Clinic ("Clinic") at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. The Clinic will soon be able to represent small claimants in the General Stream Adjudication who need legal representation and meet certain criteria. Legal services, from case initiation through a settlement negotiation, will be provided by law students studying environmental and water law and will be overseen by a water law attorney. Legal services do not extend to representation at trial. This project will be staffed during business hours and have a telephone number for unrepresented claimants to call and inquire about the General Stream Adjudication and seek advice. The Clinic is in the process of hiring a water law attorney to supervise the students. The Clinic's website can be found using the following link: https://law.arizona.edu/clinics/natural-resource-use-management-clinic.


Link here to the calendar of proceedings.

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