Arizona legislature passes law forcing Scottsdale to provide water to Rio Verde Foothills

Rio Verde Foothills residents are cut off from the City of Scottsdale’s water supply, but this...
Rio Verde Foothills residents are cut off from the City of Scottsdale’s water supply, but this new law could be the solution to the community's crisis.(Arizona's Family)
Published: May. 16, 2023 at 8:23 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The fate of one community’s water rights now lies in the hands of Gov. Katie Hobbs after the passing of HB 2441. If signed into law, it would force the City of Scottsdale to provide drinking water to residents of the Rio Verde Foothills community.

Late Monday, the Arizona House and Senate gave the bill a final passage as residents of Rio Verde Foothills, an unincorporated area north of Scottsdale, remain desperate for a solution after the city of Scottsdale cut the community off to try and conserve water for their own needs during a drought. The law comes weeks after two petitions were proposed, one requiring an act by Arizona lawmakers and the other forcing the hand between the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and the City of Scottsdale to work together to come up with the solution.

The law is specifically worded to deal with the growing East Valley water crisis. It requires “a city or town that provides water service in a county with a population of more than 500,000 persons to provide water for at least three years by using a standpipe” for water hauling to residences outside the city or town’s water service area. Provisions include that “the number of homes served does not exceed 750, and the residences are in an area that is an unincorporated community within the county and adjacent to the city or town.”

In early March, the county rejected the city’s water proposal that involved an undisclosed third party. Instead, the county asked the two groups to use a Canadian utility provider called EPCOR to deliver water to Rio Verde using Scottsdale’s pipes.

As Arizona’s Family has previously reported, hundreds of Rio Verde Foothills residents had their water supply cut off at the beginning of the year because Scottsdale stopped hauling water for them as part of its drought plan. People in Rio Verde Foothills knew about the water cutoff for at least a year. Nevertheless, development in the area was allowed despite a need for a solid long-term water supply.

The Hobbs administration has not signaled any specific support or opposition to the legislation. However, Hobbs issued an executive order just days prior creating a bipartisan council to help deal with the state’s water and assist in policy creation. The council’s first meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 17 at 1 p.m.