Water Judge, Special Master to Oversee Key Arizona Water Cases

by Timothy Tait

PHOENIX (April 3, 2023) – The Hon. Scott Blaney, Judge of the Superior Court in Maricopa County and recently appointed by the Arizona Supreme Court to oversee the state’s principal water claims, has appointed Sherri Zendri as the water master for general stream adjudication.

Judge Blaney, in addition to continuing to hear cases as part of the Superior Court’s Civil Department, is now also presiding over the state’s two major stream adjudication claims involving the Gila River and the Little Colorado River systems. The appointment of Special Master Zendri provides additional support for general stream adjudications, serving as the day-to-day arbiter of the cases.  

General stream adjudications are judicial proceedings to determine the extent and priority of all water rights in an entire river system. Arizona is undertaking a general stream adjudication of both the Gila River and the Little Colorado River systems. Priority is important in Arizona, especially during times of drought.

Judge Blaney, who was appointed to the Bench in 2018, previously served in the Family and Civil departments at Superior Court. Before joining the Court, he practiced in the area of complex commercial and business litigation, as well as employment law. He’s a graduate of the University of Arizona College of Law and served more than 30 years as military lawyer, including combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Special Master Zendri, who assumed her role March 20, has experience as administrative counsel for the Arizona State Lottery and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. Before becoming the administrative counsel at ADEQ, she worked at the agency as a hydrologist, project manager and unit manager in the Waste Programs Division, the Air Quality Division and the Regional Compliance Program. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona College of Law and earned a master’s degree in public administration from Arizona State University.  

Thousands of claimants and water users participate in these cases before the Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County and in Apache County. The Superior Court will issue decrees determining the water rights in the Gila River and Little Colorado River systems. State law, Indian, and federal non-Indian water rights will be adjudicated. The adjudications are conducted pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes sections 45-251 to 45-264.

For more information on General Stream Adjudication, visit:

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The Judicial Branch of Arizona in Maricopa County is comprised of Superior Court, Adult Probation and Juvenile Probation, which includes juvenile detention. The Judicial Branch in Maricopa County is the fourth largest trial court system in the nation and, along with its 3,000 employees, is dedicated to providing a safe, fair and impartial forum for resolving disputes, enhancing access to services, and providing innovative, evidence-based practices that improve the safety of the community and ensure the public’s trust and confidence in the Judicial Branch. For more information, visit https://superiorcourt.maricopa.gov.

Timothy Tait
Director of Communications
602-506-7570 (office) .::. 602-526-4776 (mobile)


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