FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that state trust lands did not come with water rights, settling an important question in a case to resolve claims to the Little Colorado and Gila rivers.
The state of Arizona had argued that Congress reserved water rights for state trust lands, but the Supreme Court said Wednesday that it was not persuaded by that argument.
The New Mexico Supreme Court has ruled similarly.
University of Arizona regents’ professor Robert Glennon says Arizona’s argument had posed a serious threat to tribes, cities and farmers. He says if state trust lands had water rights, those would overwhelm other water uses.
Dozens of entities have laid claim to water from the two rivers in a decades-long case.