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AZ.gov Arizona's Official Website Arizona Department of Water Resources
Arizona Department of Water Resources AZ.gov Arizona's Official Web Site
Securing Arizona's Water Future

Concerns and Complaints

 

Groundwater Withdrawals Outside of Active Management Areas (AMAs) and Irrigation Non-Expansion Areas (INAs)

 

A significant percentage of the complaints that ADWR receives from the public involve groundwater pumping and use at locations outside of the AMAs and INAs (please see this map showing the AMA and INA boundaries).  Please read and consider the following information before filing a complaint regarding these activities

 

Groundwater withdrawn from inside of Active Management Areas (AMAs) and Irrigation Non-Expansion Areas (INAs) can be subject to fees, metering, annual reporting, conservation requirements, and other restrictions.  Groundwater withdrawn from outside of the AMA and INA boundaries can be restricted in terms of its transportation between groundwater basins, but is generally subject only to the requirement “for reasonable and beneficial use.” (A.R.S. 45-453)  Community water systems outside of AMAs and INAs have the additional requirement to submit annual water use reports to ADWR.

 

“Beneficial uses” includes irrigation, stockwatering, industrial, mining, domestic, and many other uses.  The use of groundwater must be “reasonable” and A.R.S. 45-602 states that “Groundwater which has been withdrawn shall not be allowed to waste.”  Flowing wells must be capped if the groundwater is not being put to use, and wells, pumps, and piping must be “constructed and maintained so as to prevent the waste of groundwater.”

 

The Arizona State Supreme Court has ruled that landowners do not own the groundwater beneath their property, but rather have the right to withdraw those waters.  The Court stated in Town of Chino Valley vs City of Prescott, “In the absolute sense, there can be no ownership in seeping and percolating waters until they are reduced to actual possession and control by the person claiming them because of their migratory character. Like wild animals free to roam as they please, they are the property of no one.”

 

Outside of the AMAs and INAs, ADWR has no statutory authority to regulate the impact of one landowners pumping on their neighbors unless groundwater is being transferred between basins or sub-basins.  ADWR can investigate and inspect wells to ensure that they are properly constructed and that the associated well records are accurate (A.R.S. 45-633 A).

 

 

 

If your concern is not addressed above, or if after reviewing these materials you believe that a violation of rule or law has occurred, you may file a complaint by clicking here.