Arizona Stream Navigability

by Pat Deschamps,
Jonathan Fuller,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: WRPMD'99: Preparing for the 21st Century


(No paper) The State of Arizona is currently in the process of determining the ownership of the streambeds of watercourses within the state boundaries. Claims of ownership turn on whether or not the watercourses were navigable or susceptible to being navigable at the time of Statehood on February 14, 1912. The legal background and legislative chronology is outlined to set the context of why the State is currently involved in this process. The definition of navigability and the criteria evaluated in determining the navigability or non-navigability of watercourses are described to establish what characteristics are considered in such determinations. The methodology and approach employed in compiling the archaeological, historical, hydrologic, hydraulic, geomorphologic, boating, and land use information and data summaries for the Arizona stream navigability studies are presented. Useful historical data and information are highlighted and the sources of those materials are described. The combination of the historical and hydrologic records are used to integrate and assess the temporal variation of the climatic, hydrologic, geomorphologic, and land use characteristics with the historical chronology of events. The current status of the assessment of watercourses in the state by the Arizona Navigable Stream Adjudication Commission is presented. In conclusion, the immediate short-term direction of the watercourse evaluation process is discussed, and the long-term impacts of the navigability determinations are outlined.

Subject Headings: Rivers and streams | Hydrology | Geomorphology | Land use | Water resources | Domain boundary | Claims | Legal affairs | Arizona | United States

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