Frequently asked questions about SRP’s Historic Water Use agreements

SRP is working with Verde Valley water users to help avoid future disputes over water use. More than 85% or lands irrigated today in the Verde Valley have evidence of Historic Water Use.

SRP is willing to work with individual landowners to document these uses. Agreeing on long-standing Historic Water Uses would be a great step toward a more secure water future. This could help prevent potential water rights disputes, as well as help protect the flow of the Verde River.

The Water Use Summary is landowner specific summary prepared by SRP, which shows the area of Historic Water Use (HWU) based upon historic records such as maps, reports and photographs. In Arizona, water rights are appurtenant to specific land. The historic records provide the evidence to support, or sometimes dispute, ongoing water use. Currently SRP is working on Water Use Summaries with shareholders of the Verde Ditch Company (VDC), and intends to expand this opportunity to other ditch systems in the future.

Historic Water Uses are those documented water uses:

  • Which began on a particular parcel prior to June 12, 1919; or
  • Commenced after June 12, 1919 under a certificate of water right issued by the State of Arizona; or
  • Commenced after June 12, 1919 under a valid severance and transfer of a pre‐1919 water right or a post‐1919 certificate.

After 1919, questionable uses began where some farmers and landowners gradually expanded irrigation to new acres without complying with the requirements of the State Water Code. Over the decades those lands were subdivided and water use continued on those expanded areas. If there is no evidence of Historic Water Use on lands, it is believed that the water use began after 1919 and are likely subject to the State Water Code requirements.

Having Historic Water Use should be important to many landowners, because irrigated property generally has higher property values than non‐irrigated property. If those water uses are questionable, it can impact property value and sometimes cause problems during real‐estate transactions.

It is an agreement between SRP and a landowner where the two parties agree to the other’s historic uses. The HWU Agreement will provide landowners with greater legal certainty regarding the use of Verde River water on their property. The HWU Agreements will be recorded with the county, providing notice to existing and future landowners during the sale of a property.

SRP agrees to recognize and confirm a landowner’s Historic Water Use on the acres specified on a map. SRP agrees not to contest water use on those acres in the Adjudication and other forums. The landowner agrees not to expand water use beyond the recognized acres. The landowner also agrees not to contest SRP’s rights to store and use water within our project boundary.

Right now SRP is focusing its efforts with those landowners on the Verde Ditch where there are no questionable uses. SRP will reach out to eligible landowners by mail.

Eligible landowners will receive an invitation letter in the mail to call or email SRP. SRP will call the landowner to schedule a meeting, either in Camp Verde or in Tempe. At the meeting SRP will share the maps and photographs which show the areas Historic Water Use. SRP will share the Historic Water Use agreement with the landowner. The landowner can take the agreement home and review it with family members, an attorney, etc. If the landowner wants to enter into the agreement they need to have a notary witness their signature, then return the agreement to SRP. SRP will then have the agreement recorded with Yavapai County and provide a recorded copy to the landowner.

The landowner is in the driver’s seat the whole time. They choose if they want the agreement and when to sign.

SRP is reaching out to landowners on a ditch‐by‐ditch basis, however, if individuals are interested in discussing a Historic Water Use Agreement for parcels they own they can Contact Us regarding eligibility.

Not yet. Verde Ditch Company landowners have been the first to receive Water Use Summaries, however, other Verde Valley ditches and water users have expressed interest in the process and SRP will begin to work with them next.

Absolutely not. This is a completely voluntary process, although there are significant benefits to doing so. For landowners with mutually recognized Historic Water Uses, signing an HWU Agreement with SRP will provide greater legal certainty for the water rights related to their property.