Vol. 30, No. 3
September-December 2022

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. Always check our Active Cases page for up-to-date notices and documents.

Water Judge

After serving as the Water Judge since 2012, Judge Brain will be rotating to another calendar. Judge Scott Blaney has been nominated to assume the position and public comments have been solicited. Judge Blaney was appointed judge of the Arizona Superior Court in Maricopa County in 2018. Prior to his appointment, Judge Blaney litigated in Arizona state courts, federal district court for the State of Arizona, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, military courts-martial, and Immigration Court. In addition, Judge Blaney has served in the military for nearly three decades including tours in combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as with the Defense Attaché Office in Mexico City, Mexico.

Gila River Adjudication

Long-range planning was the topic of a recent meeting between members of the General Adjudication section of Arizona Department of Water Resources ("ADWR") and the Special Master. Adjudication proceedings are moving forward in two of the seven watersheds in the Gila River System and Source consolidated general adjudication. Based on past experience, it has become apparent that the issuance of a hydrographic survey report by ADWR should be done in conjunction with or after the resolution of issues, such as the implementation of summary procedures for small uses and the designation of the subflow zone. Thus, given the need for the number of technical reports from ADWR, it was decided that the next watershed to be adjudicated should be selected so that ADWR can schedule the needed technical reports. The procedure to select and the selection of the watershed to be adjudicated after the Verde Watershed will be the subject of a Status Conference on January 18, 2023 at 1:30 p.m.

Verde River Watershed

Arizona Department of Water Resources prepared a technical report containing information that may be used in a determination about whether summary procedures may be adopted to adjudicate water claims for uses such as domestic, stockponds, and stockwatering purposes. A number of objections were filed to the report. A schedule has been set to resolve the objections and make a decision about summary proceedings. An evidentiary hearing on the issue is scheduled for July 10, 2024.

Little Colorado River Watershed

Silver Creek Watershed

Silver Creek Watershed is one of the five subwatersheds in the Little Colorado River adjudication. In 1990, ADWR completed a final hydrographic survey report (HSR) containing approximately 2,190 watershed file reports to which thousands of objections were filed. Thereafter, 171 contested cases were initiated, many of which were consolidated into a series of nine larger cases for purposes of deciding common issues. Virtually all of these contested cases never reached a final adjudication before being stayed. To date, six of these cases have been re-initiated so that the claimed water rights can be adjudicated. One case was subsequently stayed pending resolution of a technical issue and the remaining cases are set for further proceedings in the next several months.

In addition to the individual cases, two broader issues are in the process of resolution. A Final Report recommending the adoption of summary proceedings to adjudicate claims for water rights for stock and wildlife watering, and stockponds in the Silver Creek Watershed has been issued and objections are due on February 20, 2023. The second issue concerns the designation of the subflow zone. Arizona Department of Water Resources will file a Subflow Zone Report on September 4, 2026. Objections will be due on March 3, 2027.

University of Arizona Law Clinic

Jennifer Wendel has been named as the as the Assistant Director of the Water Adjudication Clinic at the University of Arizona. Ms. Wendel interned at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and the Kyl Center for Water Policy at the Morrison Institute at Arizona State University before serving as the Deputy Attorney General, Department of Water Resources in Idaho and later as an attorney with the United States Department of the Interior. She will be responsible for providing the services authorized by the legislature for unrepresented claimants in the general adjudications.


Link here to the calendar of Active Cases.

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