Laws 1948, Third Special Session, Chapter 4 established the Interstate Stream Commission, transferring responsibilities previously held by the State Land Commissioner since 1945. In 1971 the Interstate Stream Commission was abolished, replaced by the Arizona Water Commission. In 1980 the Arizona Water Commission was abolished, replaced by the Arizona Department of Water Resources.
The Interstate Stream Commission was created in 1948 to protect, prosecute, and defend Arizona’s rights, privileges and claims to interstate streams, especially the Colorado River. The Commission prepared the state’s case against California in the U.S. Supreme Court, which secured Arizona’s right to 2.8 million acre feet under the Colorado River Compact of 1922 (Arizona v California, decided June 3, 1963).
Significant disputes had developed by the early 1920’s among several western states regarding the Colorado River, especially rights to the waters of the river, proposed flood control measures, and other proposed developments intended to generate hydroelectric power. Arizona established various commissions from time to time to address issues relating to the Colorado River. For additional related information, see histories for the Colorado River Commission, the Colorado River Boundary Commission and the Colorado River Boundary Markers Division, found elsewhere in this compilation.
The Colorado River Commission, first established in 1927, represented Arizona’s interests during negotiations with six other states regarding division and apportionment of the waters of the Colorado River and its tributary streams. The states involved in negotiations were Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The Colorado River Commission was repealed in 1945 and its responsibilities were divided between the Arizona State Land Commissioner, who also served as the State Water Commissioner, and the Arizona Power Authority (Laws 1945, First Special Session, Chapter 14).
In 1948, the seven-member Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) was established and assumed specific powers and duties from the Arizona State Land Department and the State Land Commissioner in his capacity as the State Water Commissioner. Legislation enacted that year outlined the responsibilities of the ISC and also transferred files, records, papers and documents from the Arizona State Land Department to ISC (Laws 1948, Third Special Session, Chapter 4).
The ISC was authorized to: prosecute and defend Arizona’s interstate stream rights, claims and privileges; formulate plans and programs to develop, control and use the waters of interstate streams; participate in court proceedings; negotiate with federal and state agencies; hold permits and licenses for reservoirs, dam sites and rights of way; and recommend action to the Governor and Legislature regarding contracts and agreements with other states or governments. The ISC prepared the state’s case against California in the U.S. Supreme Court, which ultimately secured Arizona’s right to 2.8 million acre feet pursuant to the Colorado River Compact of 1922 (Arizona v California, decided June 3, 1963).
The ISC existed until 1971when it was replaced by the Arizona Water Commission (Laws 1971, Chapter 49). The Arizona Water Commission was also responsible for oversight of dam safety, watershed management, hydrologic data collection, and licensing of weather modification projects. Administration of water rights continued to rest with the State Land Department. (www.azwater.gov)
The Arizona Water Commission was replaced by the Arizona Department of Water Resources in 1980 (Laws 1980, Fourth Special Session, Chapter 1). The newly created Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) assumed responsibility for all state water laws (except those laws related to water quality) regarding surface water, groundwater, water planning and conservation. The law also authorized the Director of ADWR to act on behalf of the state with respect to issues pertaining to the Colorado River (A.R.S. §§ 45-105 and 45-107) and to cooperate with the U.S. Secretary of Interior with respect to management and operation of the Colorado River. The Lake Mead Contract, the Colorado River Compact and the Upper Colorado River Basin Compact are also included in statute. See A.R.S. §§ 45-1301, 45-1311 and 45-1321.
Histories for the Arizona Water Commission, the State Land Department and the Department of Water Resources are located elsewhere in this compilation.
Arizona Revised Statutes §§45-105, 45-107, 45-1301, 45-1311 and 45-1321.
Laws 1945, First Special Session, Chapter 14
Laws 1948, Third Special Session, Chapter 4
Laws 1971, Chapter 49
Laws 1980, Fourth Special Session, Chapter 1
Arizona v California, 373 U.S. 546 (1963)
Arizona Department of Water Resources website: http://www.azwater.gov
Report on General State Organization: Volume Two. Griffenhagen and Associates. December 14, 1949. Page VI-1
Related collections at Arizona State Archives
RG 25 – Arizona Colorado River Commission
RG 59 – State Land Department
RG 75 – Arizona Power Authority
RG 95 – Arizona v. California
RG 141 – Interstate Stream Commission
RG 142 – Department of Water Resources
MG 25 – George W.P. Hunt
MG 53 – Central Arizona Project