Anyone working in water law in the Colorado River Basin states knows just how complex the field is. In Arizona, for instance, two general stream adjudications, called the General Adjudication of the Little Colorado River System and Source and the General Adjudication of the Gila River System and Source have been before the Courts since the 1970s.
This summer, Utah codified rules designating water judges in its district courts and establishing a procedure for district court water cases to be heard by designated water judges. A supervising water judge will be designated under the rules.
Daniel Rothsberg at The Nevada Independent reports that Nevada is looking at training in water issues, writing:
Last year, the Supreme Court formed a formal commission to study how Nevada can improve its process for moving water disputes through the courts in a more timely manner. The commission, chaired by Justice James Hardesty, includes district court judges as well as representatives from Native American tribes, urban water utilities, rural counties, irrigation districts, mining and agriculture.
The commission, Hardesty said, has focused on two recommendations: creating an educational curriculum for lower court judges, and piloting a program to assign cases to trained judges.
A water law curriculum, increased funding to the State Engineer’s office and statutory updates are some areas that Justice Hardesty’s commission is evaluating. “We are dealing with a very old water law statute that has not been modified very many times. And as a consequence, there are some ambiguities and some uncertainties, and that instability in the water law is not healthy for an economy, like in our state, that is so dependent on a declining resource,” Hardesty said.