Arizona General Stream Adjudication Bulletin


Vol. 27, No. 3
September-December 2019


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.

Departments:

Calendar
Archive

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

 

San Pedro River Subwatershed

The San Pedro River Watershed consists of five subwatersheds: Sierra Vista, Benson, Redfield, Winkelman, and Aravaipa. This bulletin focuses on the state of the general adjudication in the Winkelman and Aravaipa Subwatersheds.

Winkelman Subwatershed

Cases that include at least one claim for a right to water for domestic use dominate the Winkelman Subwatershed. See figure 1. The 1990 San Pedro HSR, prepared by the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) demonstrates that for each category of water use, irrigation (IRR), domestic (DM), stockponds (SP), and stock watering (SW) the existing uses found exceeded the number of claims filed. Domestic uses dominated the types of uses for which number of unclaimed uses exceeded the claimed uses. Arizona Department of Water Resources located 115 uses of domestic water for which no statement of claimant had been filed

figure 1

Figure 1. Arizona Department of Water Resources prepared a total of 139 reports, each of which is a separate case, that contain at least one claim for a right to water for irrigation use (IRR), domestic use (DM), a stockpond (SP) or stock watering (SW). Many cases contain multiple claims for rights for the same type of use and for than one type of water use. This figure shows the number of cases in which a particular type of use is claimed.

During the past year, irrigation claims and the determination of irrigation rights has been the focus of the adjudication in this subwatershed. As shown in figure 1, there are 39 contested cases in the Winkelman Subwatershed in which a statement of claimant has been filed and ADWR has identified at least one potential water right for irrigation use. Five of those case involve wells as the source of the irrigation water that ADWR has determined are located outside the lateral boundaries of the subflow zone. No action has been taken yet to initiate those contested cases. The remaining 34 cases involving water rights for irrigation use have been initiated. Six cases have been completed and proposed abstracts added to the Catalog of Proposed Water Rights for 2118.75 acre feet of water for irrigation use. Twenty-five cases are in process with the remaining three cases stayed pending the filing of new statements of claimant.

Aravaipa Subwatershed

The parties, with the assistance of ADWR, continue to resolve objections and enter into stipulations for rights to water for irrigation use in the Aravaipa subwatershed. Fourteen cases remain in process that involve claims for irrigation rights. To date, 42 cases for rights to water for irrigation, domestic use, stockponds, stock watering, and in-stream flow have been completed and 211 proposed abstracts have been completed and added to the Catalog of Proposed Water Rights. Included in the proposed abstracts are 30 abstracts with proposed rights for 885.68 acre feet of water annually for irrigation use.

Upon completion of the 14 cases currently pending, a Catalog of Proposed Water Rights will be distributed. The plan for 2020 is to focus on the completion of the cases and the issuance of the catalog for the Aravaipa subwatershed. Thereafter work will begin to initiate the remaining contested cases in the Aravaipa subwatershed to determine rights to water for stockponds and stock watering.

Catalog of Proposed Water Rights

The catalog of proposed water rights can be found on ADWR’s website with the proposed abstracts that have been prepared to date. During the 2019 calendar year, 259 proposed abstracts for water rights have been completed and added to the catalog.

Little Colorado Adjudication

The adjudication in the Little Colorado River Watershed continues to be dominated by active litigation in the contested cases involving water rights claimed by the Hopi Tribe and the Navajo Nation. The cases remain on schedule. With respect to the remainder of the watershed, Arizona Department of Water Resources completed a technical report analyzing stockponds, stock watering, and wildlife uses and their cumulative impact on surface water outflow from the Lower Little Colorado River Subwatershed. An initial status conference will be held on February 5, 2020 to start the process of resolving objections that are filed by the January 27, 2020 deadline and determining whether the investigated uses constitute de minimis uses and should be resolved using expedited procedures similar to those adopted in the San Pedro Watershed.

Proposed Legislation

The 2020 legislative session began on January 13, 2020. Among the proposed measures to be considered is one that could assist the unrepresented claimants during the adjudication process. House Speaker Rusty Bowers introduced HB 2620, to add new authority to the ombudsman-citizens aide, by giving that office the power to:

APPOINT AN ASSISTANT TO HELP THE OMBUDSMAN-CITIZENS AIDE ASSIST CLAIMANTS IN THE GENERAL ADJUDICATION OF WATER RIGHTS FILED PURSUANT TO TITLE 45, CHAPTER 1, ARTICLE 9 WHO ARE NOT REPRESENTED BY COUNSEL. THE OMBUDSMAN-CITIZENS AIDE'S ASSISTANCE IS LIMITED TO PROCEDURAL MATTERS AND MAY NOT INCLUDE LEGAL ADVICE REGARDING THE VALIDITY OF CLAIMS OR DEFENSES OR THE INVESTIGATION OF ANY AGENCY. THE OMBUDSMAN-CITIZENS AIDE SHALL COOPERATE AND COORDINATE WITH ANY LAW SCHOOL IN THIS STATE TO PROVIDE FOR LAW SCHOOL STUDENTS UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF THE LAW SCHOOL'S CLINICAL INSTRUCTORS TO ASSIST PARTIES IN THE ADJUDICATION WHO HAVE FEWER LEGAL RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO THEM WHEN COMPARED TO OTHER PARTIES IN THE ADJUDICATION.

HB 2620, section 1 (adding a new paragraph (A)(8) to A.R.S. § 41-1376).

As Arizona Supreme Court has recognized in its formation of its Justice for the Future initiatives, many of Arizona’s citizens cannot afford needed legal representation. If enacted, this legislation could aid the unrepresented claimants to participate more efficiently in the adjudication and provide an opportunity to train law students whose careers may include practice in this area.

Calendar

Link here to the calendar of proceedings.

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