Arizona extends deadline for water applications in Douglas AMA

Douglas AMA map - grandfathered rights deadline has been extended
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  • Well owners in the Douglas Active Management Area (AMA) have more time to apply for water rights.
  • The deadline has moved from April to September.
  • Governor Hobbs signed the extension into law and appointed a council to advise on water use in the area.

April 8, 2024 — If you own a well in the newly created Douglas Active Management Area (AMA) in Arizona, you now have more time to secure your water rights. Governor Katie Hobbs has extended the deadline for applying for “grandfathered” water rights. This means you have until September to file your paperwork with the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR).

Following a citizens’ initiative, the Douglas AMA was formed in 2022 after a public vote. Some well owners were confused about the new rules, hence the deadline extension.

What are Active Management Areas?

Arizona uses Active Management Areas to manage groundwater use. These areas have special rules to conserve water, like limiting how much can be pumped. New developments in AMAs also have to prove they have a water supply to last 100 years.

Why is this important?

The Douglas AMA aims to protect groundwater resources in the area.  If grandfathered rights are approved, well owners can continue to use their wells to irrigate their land.  Pursuant to Arizona statute (A.R.S. § 45-416), only those lands that were legally irrigated in the five years preceding August 30, 2022 – the day that residents filed their petition – may be irrigated within the basin. “Irrigate” means to apply water to two or more acres of land to produce plants or parts of plants for sale or human consumption, or for use as feed for livestock, range livestock, or poultry.

Where to find more information.

The ADWR has a dedicated webpage for the Douglas AMAOpens in a new tab.. You can find the application forms and instructions there.

Quote from Governor Hobbs.

“This legislation will give Douglas AMA water users more time to submit their water right applications to ADWR,” said the Governor. “And I’m confident that these local leaders who have volunteered to serve on the Groundwater Users Advisory Council will provide invaluable input as the water conservation programs are developed for the basin.”


Map of the Douglas AMA via ADWR’s news release.


Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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