Vol. 20, No. 2
May-August 2012

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 5B
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.

Arizona Supreme Court Interlocutory Appeals

The only current appeal involves the State of Arizona's claim that the state's school trust lands have federal reserved water rights. The Superior Court held that the "trust lands at issue here were not withdrawn from the public domain and reserved for a federal purpose and, therefore, as a matter of law, cannot be deemed to possess federal implied reserved water rights."

The Arizona Attorney General filed with the Arizona Supreme Court a petition for interlocutory review of the Superior Court's ruling. The Arizona Supreme Court granted the petition and later designated the two issues on which it granted review.

On June 12, 2012, the Supreme Court heard oral argument. The State of Arizona, ASARCO LLC and Catalyst Paper (Snowflake) Inc. jointly, Salt River Project, and the United States presented argument. The Arizona Supreme Court Staff Attorneys' Office prepared a summary of the case. Former Vice Chief Justice Andrew D. Hurwitz did not participate in the oral argument as the U. S. Senate had earlier that day confirmed his judicial appointment to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court's opinion is anticipated in the near future.

Special Procedural Order for Non-Indian Water Rights Settlements

Special Procedural Order for Non-Indian Water Rights Settlements, Gila River Adjudication and Little Colorado River Adjudication: This matter involves establishing a process for the Court to consider and review non-Indian water right settlement agreements. On July 27, 2012, pursuant to the Court's request, Arizona Public Service and Freeport-McMoRan Corporation jointly; City of Flagstaff; a group of parties designating themselves the Lower Gila Water Users; Navajo Nation; Salt River Project; State of Arizona; and the United States filed new comments concerning the proposed order. An important issue is the binding effect of an approved settlement on claimants who do not enter into the agreement. The Court will hold a hearing on September 18, 2012, to consider all comments and a proposed draft order.

Little Colorado River Adjudication

In re Hopi Tribe Priority: On June 15, 2012, the United States, Hopi Tribe, and Navajo Nation filed a status report in which they recommended that oral argument be set on the pending motions for summary judgment. Briefing of motions ended on August 10, 2012. The motions address the priority claims of the Hopi Tribe under various arguments, including Spanish and Mexican law. The Special Master set a one-day oral argument on all motions on October 24, 2012.

In a separate matter that arose concerning disclosures, the Special Master denied the Navajo Nation's motion to strike the Hopi Tribe's third supplemental disclosure statement. Since June, the progress of the proposed congressional legislation concerning a water rights settlement agreement involving the Hopi Tribe and the Navajo Nation was halted.

Gila River Adjudication

Subflow Zone Map of the San Pedro River Watershed: On April 20, 2012, the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) filed its report "Subflow Zone Delineation Methodology for the San Pedro River Watershed." The report provides a revised methodology to define the watershed's subflow zone. It includes text, tables, figures, and appendices, and is available for download from ADWR's website. Copies of the report in both electronic version and paper may be purchased from ADWR.

Arizona Public Service; ASARCO LLC; BHP Copper Inc.; Freeport-McMoRan Corporation; Bella Vista Water Company, Pueblo Del Sol Water Company, and the City of Sierra Vista jointly; and a group of parties designating themselves the Surface Water Users filed comments concerning ADWR's report. The Court set oral argument on November 8, 2012, on the comments concerning ADWR's methodology report.

A group of parties designating themselves the Groundwater Users moved for the Court to strike certain maps and a proposed order that the Surface Water Users submitted with their proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. The Court has not yet taken up this matter for ruling.

Meetings of the Gila Steering and Little Colorado Settlement Committees: On June 4, 2012, the Court requested the two committees to submit comments or suggestions concerning the future funding of the Special Master's expenses. The Special Master offered to meet with both committees. The committees held a joint meeting on July 13, 2012, and submitted recommendations to the Court. The Court approved and adopted the recommendations and set a meeting on August 22, 2012, for the committees to implement them. The Special Master attended the meeting and provided information regarding the operations and funding needs of his office. The Court also appointed Cynthia S. Campbell of the Office of the Phoenix City Attorney to the Gila Steering Committee.

In re San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area: On May 31, 2012, the Arizona Department of Water Resources filed its "Report Concerning Federal Reserved Water Rights Claims for SPRNCA." The report analyzes the federal reserved water rights claims, the quantification methodologies used by the United States, and the state law water rights of the United States. ADWR also updated its prior land ownership reports.

Based upon the latest report, the Special Master identified several potential issues for consideration and requested comments and positions concerning the use of this report in future proceedings. ASARCO LLC; Bella Vista Water Company, Pueblo Del Sol Water Company, and the City of Sierra Vista jointly; Salt River Project; and the United States filed comments. This case is addressing quantification issues.

In re Redfield Canyon Wilderness Area: The Special Master granted the request of the Arizona Game and Fish Department to withdraw as a party and added lessee The Nature Conservancy as a litigant. On July 26, 2012, the Special Master allowed Bayless & Berkalew Company to intervene and added Brown & Brown Law Offices, P. C. to the case's mailing list. This case is proceeding through the briefing of seven issues.

In re Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness Area: On August 9, 2012, the Special Master set a pre-hearing schedule and clarified the scope of the technical assistance of the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) at this time. The Special Master set time lines for filing disclosure statements, completing discovery, disclosing expert reports, filing dispositive motions, and holding a status conference. Concurrent with this schedule, ADWR was directed to work on several matters whose completion will make the scope of a future technical report clearer. This case is addressing five issues related to the ultimate quantification of the claimed water rights of the United States.

In re Applications of Salt River Project for Injunctive Relief: In the matters involving respondents Henry and Kasper, upon stipulation, the Court extended the date to February 20, 2013, for respondents to answer the Salt River Project's motion for summary judgment.

Updated Court Approved Mailing Lists

Updated Court approved mailing lists dated July 17, 2012, are posted. These lists contain all changes known to the office of the Special Master as of July 17, 2012. Click here to see a listing of changes. The July 17, 2012, date will remain the same until the mailing lists are updated in January 2013, although changes will be promptly incorporated until then.

The Arizona General Stream Adjudication Web Site

There is a web site which can answer about all your adjudication questions - http://www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/SuperiorCourt/GeneralStreamAdjudication/Index.asp is an invaluable source for orders, minute entries, Special Master's reports, upcoming proceedings, deadlines, statutes, rules, appellate decisions, mailing lists, and information concerning the Gila River and Little Colorado River Adjudications.

  • The main menu will take you to the following pages:
  • What's New
  • Arizona Supreme Court Interlocutory Appeals, Decisions, and Orders
  • Gila River Adjudication
  • Little Colorado River Adjudication
  • Overview of General Stream Adjudications (FAQs)
  • Rules for Proceedings Before the Special Master
  • Arizona General Stream Adjudication Bulletin
  • Other Decisions and Links, and
  • Court Approved Mailing Lists

The What's New page has a calendar of proceedings, deadlines, and news.

The Gila River Adjudication and Little Colorado River Adjudication pages provide copies of orders, minute entries, appellate decisions, pretrial orders, special procedural orders, and reports of the Special Master. These pages are updated as new orders, minute entries, and reports are issued.

The Court Approved Mailing Lists page contains all the current distribution lists.

The Special Master's office strives to provide useful and timely information on the web site. We welcome suggestions. Check the web site frequently for the latest information.

Other News

Kristina A. Fredericksen, Project Specialist Paralegal, Natural Resources Section, Arizona Attorney General's Office: After nine years of working on the adjudications, Kristina has moved to the Solicitor General's Office. Kristina worked in every adjudication matter in which the Attorney General's Office participated. Her commitment and work were exemplary. We wish Kristina the best in her new position.


Link here to the calendar of proceedings.

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