Gov. Katie Hobbs expected to sign bill ending Rio Verde Foothills water crisis

Six months after the Rio Verde community lost access to water service, Gov. Katie Hobbs is expected to sign a bill solving their water crisis.
Published: Jun. 14, 2023 at 5:22 PM MST|Updated: Jun. 14, 2023 at 5:46 PM MST
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RIO VERDE FOOTHILLS, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Six months after the Rio Verde Foothills community lost access to water service, residents’ struggles are coming to an end. Gov. Katie Hobbs is expected to sign a bill solving their water crisis. “I’ve been getting phone calls and texts and emails and celebratory dances. It’s just been great,” said Karen Nabity, who lives in the unincorporated Rio Verde Foothills.

Nabity has buckets set up all around her house collecting rainwater. “Cooking was, again, just trying to conserve every drop of water. So you rinse the vegetables and save it into the sink so you can use that water to flush the toilet,” she explained. “My husband and I each get one flush a day.”

The community lost access to water in January when Scottsdale cut off its supply. Since then, there have been several failed efforts to help the community with multiple solutions proposed by both Scottsdale and Maricopa city councils.

On Tuesday, the Scottsdale City Council agreed on a proposal to treat water and deliver it to the community for three years

Last month, legislators passed a bill that would have forced Scottsdale to provide water for three years. Hobbs vetoed that bill, saying it did not provide an immediate solution. “I’m just so thrilled that we have a solution for the entire community,” Nabity said.

In a sweeping majority on Tuesday, the Arizona Legislature passed a new bill that will provide relief for residents soon. “This is a win for the state Legislature because we proved that the state can solve a water crisis,” said Rep. Alexander Kolodin, who helped introduce the bill. “I’m very happy that we are at the end of this road because it’s about darn time.”

Under this bill, water from a third party will be temporarily distributed to Rio Verde until Canadian company EPCOR gets legal approval to service those homes permanently. “There’s one issue that is not partisan. That issue is water,” Rep. Kolodin said. Currently, there is no official timeline for when those in Rio Verde will get water, though lawmakers are hopeful it’ll be within the next several months.

According to the Kyl Center for Water Policy at ASU, when six or more homes are built in one area in the state, they must prove to developers they have a 100-year water supply. When the community was first built, it fell below that six-home threshold, leaving them vulnerable.

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