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Arizona Navigable Stream Adjudication Commission (ANSAC)
1700 W. Washington St., Rm B-54
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Email: [email protected]
Phone and Cell: 602.542.9214
We are no longer able to receive faxes

Arizona Navigable Stream Adjudication Commission-ANSAC

Posted August 2022
(Commission Sunset Date is June 30, 2024)

NOTE:We are awaiting results regarding the segments of three rivers (Gila, Salt, and Verde) that are presently in Court. While this is a five-year plan ANSAC hopes to complete its work and Sunset well before FY2025.


We try to be available by telephone weekdays except holidays 8:00-5:00. There is no longer public access to the basement where our office/evidence room is located. Clearly, the COVID-19 crisis has caused us to alter office hours and where possible.

  1. We have always asked that visitors make an appointment to review hard-copy original evidence for two reasons. 1. So we can have the (sometimes several) boxes of evidence the visitor will need ready and, 2. So two or more parties who want to review the same evidence do not visit the office at the same time. This has occurred a few times and our space for reviewing evidence is limited. Additionally, on occasion two parties on different sides of an issued have visited the office and have wanted to review the same evidence.
  2. Building security has been increased and the public no longer has elevator or stair access to the basement. However, if someone wants to review case evidence, I can arrange to meet him or her in the lobby and I will escort them to the ANSAC office. There are no longer a cafeteria or drink or snack machines in the basement of the 1700 West Washington St. building, known as the Capitol Tower.

ANSAC Missions:

  1. To determine the navigability of Arizona’s approximately 39,039 rivers and streams as of statehood, February 14, 1912. The purpose for this is to determine streambed title/land title or ownership of the beds of rivers and streams. ANSAC HEARINGS and ADJUDICATIONS include all Arizona Watercourses except the Colorado River.
  2. To determine the Public Trust Value of any Arizona watercourse or reach or segment of any watercourse that through the ANSAC adjudication and court processes is determined to have been navigable at time of statehood, February 14, 1912.
  • ANSAC does NOT deal with Water Rights, Water Use, Water Ownership, or Water Diversion issues or other similar water related subjects and deals only with matters relating to Land Title to the Beds of Arizona's Rivers and Streams. There are other agencies and laws that are responsible for specific water related issues.
  • Generally, for ANSAC purposes, if a river was navigable at the time of statehood, then title to the streambed is subject to ownership by the government. And if a river was non-navigable at time of statehood, then the title to the statehood, then title to the streambbed is subject to ownership by the owner of land the river crosses.


The Arizona Navigable Stream Adjudication Commission is a General Fund single budget program commission.

The Comission's first resposibiltiy is to determine which Arizona Rivers and streams were navigable at time of Statehood, February 14, 1912, and which were non-navigable. ANSAC accomplishes this by holding the watercourse evidentiary navigability hearings. This includes using professionals to conduct "paticularized studies" regarding issues that affect navigability. Navigability determinations are necessary for deciding who owns a streambed, that is who owns the land beneath the stream or river. The ANSAC adjudication process is essential for determining whether land beneath the rivers and streams are subject to ownership by the government or by the person whose land a paticular river or stream crosses. Determining ownership is necessary to help clear more than an estimated 100,000 "clouded" property titles. To accomplish this, ANSAC has held more than 160 watercourse navigability hearings, with some hearings including as many as eight days of witness testimony. Some witnesses were private Arizona citizens, Arizona Legislators, Tribal Historians, and many PhD level professionals in areas such as history, geology, hydrology, and marine-archeology. Regarding the three ANSAC cases presently in the Arizona Court of Appeals ANSAC has received thousands of pages of documents-that make up 27 bankers boxes records.

NOTE-MOST RECENT PAST CASES:On approximately October 21, 2011, an Arizona Court of Appeals decision resulted in the Commission holding additional hearings and considering conditions not only as of statehood but also going back prior to statehood regarding six rivers; San Pedro, Santa Cruz, Gila, Verde, and Upper and Lower Salt. This Court of Appeals decision was the result of requests for judicial review by three parties of Commission determinations of non-navigability and decisions by Maricopa Superior Court that upheld the Commission’s determinations of non-navigability. (The Upper Salt and Lower Salt have since been consolidated into a single case resulting in five total remaining rivers).

Following the Court of Appeals decision in 2011, the Commission held multiple additional hearings regarding five rivers, some lasting as long as eight days of examinations of experts and other witnesses, and involving thousands of pages of evidence. The Commission, an entirely different Commission except for one outstanding member, again made final determinations of non-navigability regarding each of the five rivers on approximately June 18, 2018.

NOTE-CURRENT CASES:Following the determinations of non-navigability by the Commission on about June 18, 2018, there were no challenges or requests for judicial review filed in superior court regarding the San Pedro and Santa Cruz rivers. However, one party filed an appeal/a request for judicial review of ANSAC’s determinations in Maricopa County Superior regarding the Gila, Salt, and Verde rivers. Once again, Maricopa County Superior Court upheld the Commission’s determinations of non-navigability regarding these three rivers.

The same party appealed the Maricopa County Superior Court decision upholding the Commission’s determinations of non-navigability of the Gila, Salt, and Verde rivers, with the Arizona Court of Appeals. Oral arguments by the parties were heard by the Court of Appeals a few weeks ago and we are awaiting the decision of that court.

Strategic Issues:

  1. The future work of ANSAC depends largely on whether any additional court challenges are filed or whether a court requests that ANSAC do additional work.
  2. ANSAC will continue to defend its determinations of non-navigability.
  3. Attorney fees for outside legal counsel continue to be a critical issue because pursuant to A.R.S. §37-1122.B, ANSAC is required to use outside legal counsel.
  4. ANSAC may find it necessary to file its own legal actions.
  5. In the event courts rule specific watercourses or portions of watercourses were navigable at time of statehood; there is a statutory requirement that ANSAC hold proceedings to determine the Public Trust Value of such watercourses or portionsthereof.
  6. ANSAC intends to comply with directives from the court.
  7. Once all casework has been completed, all Commission final reports have been through the ANSAC hearings processes and court procedures, ANSAC, through its attorneys, will record all reports in each county through which each river travels or borders-e.g. the Gila River travels through six Arizona Counties.
  8. ANSAC will Sunset.

Related Issues:

  1. Funding for outside legal counsel and related expenses. Pursuant to A.R.S. §37-1122.B, ANSAC is required to use outside legal counsel. Funds may be requested for all commision legal work and related expenses, including defense of appeals filed in Superior court or other courts and for legal actions ANSAC website, may be requested.
  2. Funding for any additional computers and other equipment to complete ANSAC projects, may be requested.
  3. If through the appeals process a court rules a river, reach, or segment of a river was navigable at time of Statehood then the Commission will hold Public Trust Value Hearings to determine value.
  4. ANSAC may request additional time and funding beyond the current Sunset Date of June 30, 2024 to complete its work.
  5. Once the Commission has completed its work, including any future court actions, ANSAC will record each remaining final commission report in the counties where each river travels as the final step to the ANSAC hearings process. (For recording of reports regarding the Gila River will be in six Arizona counties.)
  6. Completion of all casework and all other legal work will allow ANSAC to complete the Sunset process and close its doors.


The official source for dates, times and locations of hearings or other ANSAC public meetings is displayed on the kiosks in the lobbies of the Arizona Senate and House. Additionally, all notices of state agency, board, or commission meetings is online under State of Arizona, “Arizona Public Meeting Notices” or by using other similar text to find the ADOA official public meeting notices site.


When ANSAC completes its work, it will Sunset or go out of business. The present Sunset Date is June 30, 2024; however, the Commission plans to complete it work before that date.


  • Wade Noble, Chair
  • Bill Allen, Member
  • Vacancy, Member
  • Vacancy, Member
  • Vacancy, Member


  • George Mehnert, Director
  • Matthew Rojas, Attorney
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