The process of providing property owners with detailed information about their groundwater rights has played out almost unchanged for decades. It has been slow. And cumbersome. And inconvenient to people holding a right to use groundwater.
That is now changing. In mid-January, the Arizona Department of Water Resources’ website will feature a new “interactive” search map that – for the first time – will allow the public to conveniently access geographical and other data about their groundwater rights.
Prepared by the Department’s Active Management Area (AMA) section with the assistance of ADWR’s IT specialists, the new interactive map will assist the holders of groundwater rights – an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 landowners – with information regarding the location and boundaries of their groundwater rights, as well as a wealth of other data, including image information and aerial views, the number of acres included in each right and the annual allotment of each right.
The system provides layers of maps that, for example, allow a viewer to determine how a parcel of land lines up with groundwater rights, or to determine which rights (or how many) are within a given sub-basin.
The system was designed with the intent of providing a way to determine if a parcel of land has a grandfathered right appurtenant to it.
Specifically, the Grandfathered Right (GFR) Web Map, as it is known, is an interactive map intended for use by owners and lessees of irrigation grandfathered groundwater rights and of “Type 1” non-irrigation GFRs.
The map also should prove useful to buyers and sellers of land within an AMA, among others. The map shows the boundaries of all active GFRs, as well as the type of each GFR (for example, whether the GFR is for irrigation, Type 1 non-irrigation, exempt small rights, or other uses). It also will indicate if a GFR has been extinguished and/or developed.
In addition to providing detailed information to those holding groundwater rights, the map’s developers anticipate it will be of value to water providers and irrigation districts as well – indeed, any entity seeking information about groundwater rights within its service area.
ADWR’s Active Management Area section regularly fields questions about the boundaries of groundwater rights. Until now, someone seeking information would have to wait for the Department’s personnel to create a map tailored to their request to share with them.
The new, online system changes (and simplifies) all that. It can be easily searched and viewed by address, parcel number, owner name or groundwater-right number.
The Grandfathered Right Web Map will be active by mid-January. A “work in progress” version of the website can be viewed here: https://gisweb2.azwater.gov/igfr