Arizona House Speaker-Elect Announces Plans To Speed Up Water Rights Lawsuits

Published: Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - 1:53pm
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Arizona House Speaker-elect Rusty Bowers spoke Monday at an agribusiness roundtable held in part by the state Department of Agriculture, where he made clear his interest in water policy.

Bowers was slated to talk about several water rights issues, including the ongoing struggle within the Drought Contingency Plan, the plan aimed at determining Arizona’s use of Colorado River water.

He also discussed water adjudication, which are decades-long legal proceedings that are meant to determine the water rights of countless claimants on the Little Colorado and Gila River.

At the roundtable, Bowers announced plans to introduce in the Legislature a way to speed along the lengthy process.

“It’s my plan to appropriate sufficient monies, and I hope I can get it past my caucus, and others, to have a full judge, all the costs of a new and additional, but only dedicated to adjudication and judge for that,” he said.

Water policy experts say the legal holdup has created some measure of uncertainty when it comes to water availability in non-urban areas.

“Another question is about the large water users along adjudicated areas, where now it’s questioned whether they have the right to keep drilling, or at least keep pumping. And that strikes close to home with me," Bowers said. "So that adjudication, we want to fund that and move that along and get that done.”

Bowers said he hopes the new funding would make adjudication a full-time responsibility in the courts.

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