Vol. 15, No. 3
September-December 2007

Welcome to the Online Arizona General Stream Adjudication Bulletin

The Bulletin is published three times a year by the Office of the Special Master 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 5B
201 West Jefferson
Phoenix, AZ 85003-2205
Tel. 602-372-4115

The Bulletin relies on links as we believe that making a copy of the entire document available to our readers is better than a short summary. Always check our What's New page frequently for up-to-date notices and documents.

Arizona Supreme Court Interlocutory Appeals

In re Proposed Gila River Indian Community Water Rights Settlement, Interlocutory Appeal No. WC-07-0001-IR (Contested Case No. W1-207), Gila River Adjudication: This appeal is pending a decision of the Arizona Supreme Court. The Supreme Court granted the Navajo Nation's motion to voluntarily dismiss the Nation's cross-petition for interlocutory review. Remaining in this appeal are the petitions for interlocutory review filed by the Lower Gila Water Users and the Apache Tribes (San Carlos Apache Tribe, Yavapai-Apache Nation, and Tonto Apache Tribe). The United States, Salt River Project, and the Gila River Indian Community filed responses to the petitions. Several other parties involved in the settlement agreement joined in the response of the United States.

Recently, the Apache Tribes requested the Supreme Court for leave to supplement the Tribes' original petition, and ASARCO LLC filed a petition for interlocutory review presenting three issues for appellate review. On December 14, 2007, the Secretary of the Interior published his statement of findings concerning the settlement. The publication of the notice caused the waivers and releases of certain claims to become effective.

In re Proposed Tohono O'odham Nation Water Rights Settlement, Interlocutory Appeal No. WC-07-0002-IR (Contested Case No. W1-208), Gila River Adjudication: This appeal is concluded. On November 30, 2007, the Arizona Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the Superior Court which had approved this water rights settlement. The Court reviewed the scope of its 1991 Special Procedural Order as it applies when considering an Indian water rights settlement. The Court held that the Pascua Yaqui Tribe's claims were without merit "because the settlement determines only the water rights of the [Tohono O'odham] Nation, does not provide the Nation with any federal reserved rights, restricts the amounts of groundwater the Nation may pump, and expressly reserves all rights and claims of the [Pascua Yaqui] Tribe."

The Court ordered that motions for reconsideration would not be allowed and held that "the Tohono O'odham Settlement is final and non-appealable under the law of the State of Arizona."

On December 14, 2007, the Secretary of the Interior published his statement of findings concerning the settlement. The publication of the notice caused the Congressional legislation to take effect.

The appeal arose from the Tohono O'odham Nation's petition for interlocutory review of the Superior Court's Judgment and Decree requesting the Arizona Supreme Court to affirm the judgment and decree.

Joint Adjudications Hearing on Departmental Funding and Staffing

On September 18, 2007, the Court held a joint hearing of both adjudications to discuss the increased funding of $1.5 million given to the Arizona Department of Water Resources and the alignment of future technical assignments and projected schedules of completion. Pursuant to the Court's request, the Department filed a supplemental report on October 19, 2007.

During the next two years, the Department will hire additional staff and plans to work on the publication of the Hopi Tribe preliminary and final hydrographic survey reports, completion of the subflow zone map for the San Pedro River Watershed, analysis of existing and new claims in the San Pedro River Watershed including de minimis uses, and begin research of historic stream flows and geologic mapping in the Verde River Watershed. The Department will continue to serve summonses for new uses, process new claims, and update the statement of claimant data base.

Gila River Adjudication

In re Proposed Gila River Indian Community Water Rights Settlement: On September 13, 2007, the Maricopa County Superior Court entered a Judgment and Decree and overruled objections to the proposed judgment and decree. Following the entry of the judgment and decree, the Gila River Indian Community ("GRIC") filed a Request for Costs and a Motion for Sanctions in the Form of Attorney's Fees against the Lower Gila Water Users ("LGWU"). The LGWU moved to strike both motions and requested sanctions against GRIC for filing its request for costs. The Superior Court has not ruled on these motions.

In re Powers Garden Administrative Site, Gila River Adjudication: The Special Master commenced a new contested case in the San Pedro River Watershed concerning the claimed water rights of the Coronado National Forest to the Powers Garden Administrative Site. The historic site is located 20 miles south of Klondyke, Arizona, in the Galiuro Mountains. Completion of this case will mean that the six federal reserved water right claims identified in the Final San Pedro River Watershed Hydrographic Survey Report will have been addressed.

In re State Trust Lands: The Special Master submitted his report to the Court. The report includes findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendations for the issues referred to the Special Master. The Special Master concluded that careful analysis of Congressional legislation, court decisions, historical documents, and all evidence submitted by the parties, considered within the law relating to federal reserved water rights, do not show that implied reserved water rights exist for the State Trust Lands.

At the request of the State of Arizona, the Court provided two weeks additional time to file objections and comments, responses, and replies. On December 17, 2007, the State of Arizona, ASARCO LLC, Abitibi Consolidated Sales Corporation, and the United States filed objections to the report. The new due dates are February 5, 2008, for responses and March 11, 2008, for replies. Thereafter, the Superior Court will enter its ruling.

In re Fort Huachuca: On November 20, 2007, the Special Master heard a half-day of oral argument on the motions for summary judgment filed by the United States, jointly ASARCO LLC and the Arizona Water Company, and the Salt River Project. The Bella Vista Water Company, Inc., Pueblo Del Sol Water Company, and the City of Sierra Vista, who designated themselves the Sierra Vista Parties, also participated in the briefing and oral argument. The motions address four issues concerning the fort's claimed federal reserved water rights.

In re PWR 107 Claims: Four claimants including Mr. Wayne D. Klump filed objections to the Special Master's partial report and proposed order and partial decree for the adjudication of Public Water Reserve No. 107 reserved water rights of the United States in the San Pedro River Watershed. The Court ordered Mr. Klump to file a brief concerning his motion to sanction the Arizona Department of Water Resources and denied without prejudice Mr. Klump's request to remove the Special Master. After considering Mr. Klump's brief, on November 20, 2007, the Court denied Mr. Klump's requests to sanction the Arizona Department of Water Resources and to remove the Special Master. The Court ruled that it will consider Mr. Klump's motion and brief as an objection to the Special Master's report.

In re Application of Salt River Project for Injunctive Relief Re Respondents NBJ Ranch, L. P., Kovacovich Investment, L. P., and Wiertzema Family Trust: Pursuant to the stipulation of the parties, the Court modified the hearing schedule for these three matters and continued the separate evidentiary hearings previously set for October and December. The Court also denied the request of other parties to designate several issues related to these matters as issues of broad legal importance. If allowed, that designation would have opened those issues for briefing by other claimants in the Gila River Adjudication.

The Court will hold an evidentiary hearing for these three applications on April 22-24, 2008. The applications involve claims to surface water rights, which include subflow, in the Verde River Watershed.

Belsher Investments, L. P.'s Application for Injunctive Relief Re Respondent Michael L. Golder: On October 11, 2007, the Court held a hearing on this application. Following the hearing, the Court set a schedule for determining the application. An evidentiary hearing will be held on January 22, 2008. This matter involves claims to surface water rights in the Upper Salt River Watershed, and the parties are Belsher Investments, L. P., Mr. Golder, and the Salt River Project.

Other News

Special Master's Web Site: The Web site has completed its journey to the home of the Maricopa County Superior Court. This is the first issue of the Bulletin published in its new home. The efforts of Andy Cicchillo, Martin Dominguez, and Ric Napoli of Maricopa County's CTS Web Team in making this transition happen are very much appreciated. Special recognition goes to Robert Cartwright, the Webmaster at the Administrative Office of the Courts, who played a leading role in designing and assisting with the updating of the site when it was housed at AOC. The new site will be regularly updated .


Link here to the calendar of proceedings on the Special Master's web site.

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