The Arizona Water Commission was created by Laws 1971, Chapter 49. The AWC assumed the responsibilities previously held by the Interstate Stream Commission, assumed the responsibility for supervision of dams, previously held by the State Highway Engineer, and assumed the responsibility for licensing and regulation of weather control and cloud modification operations previously held by the State Land Department. Water resource data and findings derived from surveys and investigations conducted by the State Land Department and the U.S. government were also transferred to the AWC.
In 1980, the Arizona Department of Water Resources replaced the AWC.
The Arizona Water Commission was created in 1971 “to place within one state agency, the responsibility for the development, cooperation, coordination and approval of plans for the future use of waters of the state, for devising means and plans for development, conservation, utilization of all waters now within, or which may at a future date come within state jurisdiction, and for supervision of dams under jurisdiction of the state.” (Legislative intent, Laws 1971, Chapter 49) The Legislature was careful to state the measure was not meant to amend the duties of the Arizona Power Authority, the Department of Game and Fish or the State Land Department with respect to issues outside those responsibilities specifically transferred to the AWC.
Legislation enacted in 1971 outlined specific duties of the AWC including the authority to: appoint a state water engineer, employ geologists, hydrologists, consulting engineers and legal counsel; defend the state’s rights to interstate streams; negotiate and cooperate with the federal government and other states concerning matters within the AWC jurisdiction; manage state watersheds; prepare plans for development and conservation of the state’s surface water and groundwater, including irrigation, drainage, diversion, flood control and storage; measure and survey water resources of the state; maintain records of stream flow, groundwater levels and water quality; recommend state regulations to promote and protect rights and interests in waters of the state; enter into contracts with other state agencies regarding state water plans; and ensure the safety of state dams and reservoirs. The AWC also assumed responsibilities, previously held by the Interstate Stream Commission, related to use of the waters of the Colorado River.
Laws 1973, Chapter 94 required AWC to evaluate the adequacy of water supplies for new subdivisions and to provide that information to the Arizona Real Estate Commission. The information was also required to be included in promotional material for the new subdivision.
Laws 1977, Chapter 29 established a 25-member Groundwater Management Study Commission to develop a comprehensive long-range plan for groundwater management. In 1980, Governor Bruce Babbitt issued a call for a special session of the Legislature to adopt a code to regulate and control the use of groundwater and to establish a new agency to administer the state’s water laws.
Laws 1980, Fourth Special Session, Chapter 1 created the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) and transferred the authority, powers, duties and responsibilities of the Arizona Water Commission and the State Water Engineer to the newly created Department. The law addressed surface water, groundwater, dams and reservoirs and also authorized the Director of ADWR to act on behalf of the state with regard to issues related to the Colorado River.
Histories for the Interstate Stream Commission, the State Land Department and the Department of Water Resources are located elsewhere in this compilation.
Arizona Revised Statutes, Title 45
Laws 1971, Chapter 49
Laws 1973, Chapter 94
Laws 1977, Chapter 29
Laws 1980, Fourth Special Session, Chapter 1
Arizona Department of Water Resources website: www.azwater.gov
Related collections at Arizona State Archives:
RG 59 – State Land Department
RG 75 – Arizona Power Authority
RG 141 – Interstate Stream Commission
RG 142 – Department of Water Resources