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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)
Posted to Website September 2020

ANSAC Missions:

  1. To determine the navigability of Arizonaís approximately 39,039 rivers and streams as of statehood, February 14, 1912. The need for this is to determine streambed title/land title or ownership of the beds of rivers and streams to help clear more than 100,000 estimated clouded property titles. 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.
  • NOTE. 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.


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

ANSAC determines watercourse navigability or non-navigability by holding evidentiary hearings. Hearings include using professionals to conduct particularized studies regarding issues that affect navigability. ANSAC has held more than 160 watercourse navigability hearings with some hearings including as many as eight days of witness testimony. Witnesses include private Arizona citizens, Arizona Legislators, Tribal Historians, and many PhD and other professionals in areas such as history, fluvial geomorphology, geology, hydrology, and marine archeology. The most recent hearings were for the Gila, Salt, San Pedro, Santa Cruz, and Verde rivers, concluding in August 2018. Regarding the recent hearings pertaining to these five rivers ANSAC has received thousands of pages of documentary evidence.

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, and 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, borders, or flows on.

Strategic Issues:

  1. The future of ANSACís has always partly depended on whether anyone appeals any of the commission determinations regarding navigability to Superior Court..
  2. Most recently the Commission determined for the second time five major rivers were non-navigable at statehood (Salt, Gila, San Pedro, Santa Cruz, and Verde). The most recent hearings concluded on June 28, 2018, with determinations that all five rivers were non-navigable at time of statehood.
  3. Following the Commissionís final reports regarding these five rivers the deadline for filing appeals in Superior Court 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 were filed in Maricopa County Superior Court in March 2019 and ANSAC transmitted 27 banker boxes of records regarding these three rivers to that court.
  5. Maricopa County Superior Court most recently found in favor of ANSACís determinations of non-navigability for the Salt, Gila, and Verde Rivers
  6. Appeals of Maricopa County Superior Courtís decisions may be filed with the Arizona Court of Appeals by October 2, 2020, and we have been advised that one party intends to file an appeal.
  7. ANSAC may also file its own legal actions in court if necessary.
  8. In the event courts ultimately rule a specific watercourse or reach or segment of any watercourse was navigable at time of statehood; there is a statutory requirement that ANSAC hold proceedings to determine the Public Trust Value of such watercourses or reaches or segments of such watercourse.
  9. In the event the court issues directives to ANSAC to do additional work, ANSAC intends to comply with those directives.
  10. Once all reports have been through the ANSAC hearings process and the court procedures, and all casework is completed, then ANSAC will record all reports in each county where each river crosses, borders, or flows in, and will begin the Sunset process following completion of any additional legal work. This will hopefully be long before the current Sunset date of June 30, 2024.

Related Issues:

  1. Funding for outside legal counsel and related expenses. Pursuant to A.R.S. ß37-1122.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 for legal actions ANSAC may file on its own.
  2. Funding for any additional computers and software and other equipment to complete ANSAC projects will be necessary.
  3. Funding for Public Trust Value proceedings. 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 and these may require in-state travel and other funds related to those proceedings.
  4. ANSAC will request additional time and funding beyond the current Sunset Date of June 30, 2024, if necessary.
  5. Once the Commission has completed its work, including all court actions, ANSAC will record each remaining final commission report in the counties where each river travels or borders 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 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 will appear 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, ďArizona Public Meeting NoticesĒ 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 although during the current COVID-19 crisis hours may change. 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 three reasons. 1. Because hours may vary during the COVID-19 crisis. 2. So we can have the boxes of evidence the visitor will need ready, and many times there are several boxes, and 3. So two parties who want to review the same evidence but who are on opposite sides of an 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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