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Water--Stream Flow:
NOW: surface water management; pilot project

Our Position: oppose
Bill Number: SB1236
Sponsor: Griffin, Gould, Allen, et al.
Legislative Session: 2012 Legislative Session

SB1236 NOW: surface water management; pilot project (Griffin, Gould, Allen, et al.) makes it more difficult to establish an instream flow right for fish, wildlife or recreational purposes. It sets up a different standard for these instream flow rights than for other surface water rights by requiring that at least five years of stream flow measurement data to support the proposed beneficial use is submitted at the time the application is filed, rather than during the consideration of the application. SB1236 directs the Arizona Department of Water Resources to reject applications for instream flow rights that do not meet these new requirements. This will clearly move these applications back and further limit keeping water flowing in our rivers and streams.


To see how your senator voted, click on SB1236 Senate Vote.

To see how your representatives voted, click on SB1236 House Vote.

Action Needed


More information

To read the bill, click on SB1236.


At first glance, you might think that SB1236 NOW: surface water management; pilot project (Griffin, Gould, Allen, et al.) merely includes a pilot project. It does not. In addition to the pilot projects, it includes limits on instream flows protections for fish, wildlife, and recreation. It is questionable as to whether this is even germane to the rest of the bill.

Arizona is an arid state, but its rivers and streams provide life-giving refuges for wildlife and give us a place to refresh and recreate, plus contribute to the strength and stability of the state’s economy. A recent report by a working group of the Water Resources Development Commission documented that the state has over 5,000 miles of perennial streams (those that flow year-round) and upwards of one million acres of riparian area (areas dependent on flowing water). Wildlife-based recreation alone brings billions of dollars into the state every year.

Arizona’s instream flow statutes are one of the few tools available to help keep water flowing in the state’s rivers. These laws allow a person or a group to apply for a water right and then keep the water in the river or stream instead of taking it out. Instream flow rights can be granted for fish, wildlife, or recreational purposes.

Like other water rights, instream flow rights work according to a system of seniority and cannot interfere with an existing right. Once an instream flow right has been granted, then new water rights applications and transfers of existing rights cannot be approved if they would conflict with the instream right. That is current law

Arizona has demonstrated time and again that we can dry up rivers and streams, but we have not yet demonstrated that we can save them. Please do not place further restrictions on one of the few tools we have in statute to protect the flowing rivers that remain.

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