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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


(Commission Sunset Date is June 30, 2024)

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 doing 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 approximately 39,039 Rivers and Streams.


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

The commission’s first responsibility 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 watercourse evidentiary navigability hearings. This includes using professionals to conduct “particularized 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 rivers and streams are subject to ownership by the government or by the person whose land a particular river or stream crosses or borders. Determining ownership is necessary to help clear more than an estimated 100,000 “clouded” property titles where streambed ownership is unknown. 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, fluvial geomorphology, geology, hydrology, and marine-archeology. The most recent hearings were for the five remaining rivers (Gila, Salt, San Pedro, Santa Cruz, and Verde rivers). Regarding the hearings pertaining to these five rivers ANSAC has received thousands of pages of documents-that make up 27 bankers boxes of records.

Generally, for ANSAC purposes if a river was navigable at time of statehood, then title to the streambed is subject to ownership by the government. If a river was non-navigable at time of statehood, then title to the streambed is subject to ownership by the person whose land the river crosses.

Strategic Issues:

  1. The future of ANSAC depends partly on whether anyone appeals any of the commission non-navigability determinations regarding any of the five rivers remaining at issue with ANSAC (San Pedro, Santa Cruz, Gila, Salt, and Verde).
  2. The Commission ratified all five remaining reports for the Gila, Salt, San Pedro, Santa Cruz, and Verde Rivers on June 28, 2018, including determinations that each river was non-navigable at time of Statehood, February 14, 1912.
  3. The deadline for filing appeals was approximately March 29, 2019.
  4. There have been no appeals of the commission determinations of non-navigability regarding the San Pedro and Santa Cruz Rivers. Appeals regarding the commission determinations of non-navigability regarding the Gila, Salt, and Verde Rivers are presently in Maricopa County Superior Court.
  5. ANSAC will defend its determinations of non-navigability in court regarding the Gila, Salt and Verde Rivers.
  6. ANSAC may also file its own legal actions in court of necessary.
  7. 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 portions of watercourses.
  8. ANSAC will comply with directives from the court.
  9. Once all reports have been through the ANSAC hearings processes and the court procedures, and all casework is completed, then ANSAC, through its attorneys, will record all reports in each county through which each river travels or borders.

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 will be necessary for all commission legal work and related expenses, including defense of appeals filed in Superior court or other courts and ANSAC may file its own legal actions.
  2. Funding for any additional computers or other equipment to complete ANSAC projects, including the ANSAC website, will be necessary.
  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 will request additional time and funding beyond the current Sunset Date of June 30, 202 4 to complete this process.
  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 example, recording of the Gila River commission report will be in six Arizona counties.)
  6. Completion of all casework 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 meetings is 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.


Normal Business Hours are weekdays except holidays 8:00-5:00. When we are away from the office, we try to forward the office phone to a phone someone will answer or to a phone where a caller may record a message.

We ask 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 parties who want to review the same evidence but who are on opposite sides of the issue do not visit the office at the same time. This has occurred a few times and our space for reviewing evidence is limited.


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.


PURPOSE: To help clear more than 100,000-clouded Arizona property titles to the land beneath Arizona's approximately 39,039 rivers and streams. As mentioned earlier, ANSAC's work pertains only to land beneath rivers and streams and not to water issues such as ownership, use, or diversion of water. There are many existing laws that deal with water ownership and use matters. ANSAC does not hold hearings to determine the navigability of the Colorado River because the Federal Government owns the Colorado.

HOW: By gathering evidence, including testimony and engineering studies, and holding evidentiary navigability hearings on all of Arizona's approximately 39,039 watercourses. ANSAC holds hearings in each of Arizona's 15 counties to provide an opportunity for the public to participate. The reason for evidentiary hearings including testimony by Arizona Citizens and Professionals is to determine which Arizona Rivers and streams were navigable and which were non-navigable at time of statehood February 14, 1912.

If a Watercourse was NAVIGABLE at statehood then the bed/the land beneath the watercourse is subject to government ownership.

If a Watercourse was NON-NAVIGABLE at statehood then the bed/the land beneath the watercourse is subject to private ownership by the party whose land it crosses.


  • Wade Noble, Chair
  • Bill Allen, Member
  • Jim Horton, Member


  • George Mehnert, Director
  • Matthew Rojas, Attorney
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