Scottsdale passes Rio Verde Foothills water proposal, Maricopa County has questions

Feb 21, 2023, 7:00 PM | Updated: 7:03 pm

PHOENIX — The Scottsdale City Council unanimously agreed on a proposed resolution to temporarily supply water to Rio Verde Foothills during a meeting on Tuesday.

The Temporary Water Supply Intergovernmental Agreement would grant the community access to water for two years with an option for a third year.

But, as Councilwoman Tammy Caputi put it, the plane has yet to land.

Maricopa County Supervisor Tom Galvin said in a letter to Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega and the City Council on Tuesday that the county Board of Supervisors had yet to discuss the proposal, but he has questions.

Scottsdale under the proposal would not award more water to Rio Verde Foothills than it historically has and could reduce the amount of water it shares if its access to water diminishes.

The East Valley city said the deal was contingent on it receiving 600 acre-feet of raw water from a third party of which the city would supply 126 acre-feet of water at the Pima Road Filling Station each year. Maricopa County would have to pay $1,000 per month plus $21.25 per 1,000 gallons of potable water.

“We are only an interim solution,” Brian Biesemeyer, director of the Scottsdale Water Resources Department, said. “Whoever the final solution is, this gives them time.”

The agreement needs to be made with Maricopa County, and the county could then contract with water haulers to deliver to Rio Verde.

“I anticipate, however, that my colleagues will share my concerns and questions about the proposed agreement, which will need to be discussed, addressed and rectified, as part of a negotiation process, if the proposal is to move forward,” Galvin wrote in the letter.

“The important items for discussion include: the source of the water, the calculation of the cost for the water and whether it is just and reasonable and what are appropriate limitations on how the water to be secured by the proposed agreement is transported to Rio Verde Foothills residents.”

He concluded the letter by saying he is confident the two parties will come to an agreement.

Rio Verde Foothills historically received water via haulers that purchased potable water from Scottsdale, as the community was not directly serviced by the East Valley city.

Scottsdale’s drought management plan cut off water to the unincorporated community on Jan. 1 in an effort to secure the water supply for its own residents.

Shortages and restrictions on the Colorado River supply caused Scottsdale to be stricter with its resources.

Rio Verde Foothills residents sued Scottsdale in January, wanting water access to be temporarily restored, but a judge rejected their injunction.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Rio Verde residents expressed gratitude to Scottsdale for moving forward on a solution but stressed the importance of getting it done quickly.

Multiple individuals spoke of using paper cups, bottled and rainwater and flushing the toilet once per day to avoid running out of water.

“We are moving forward and we have to respect number one our residents in Scottsdale and our obligation to every commercial, hospital, school and resident in this city,” Ortega said. “I know a couple city employees who live in Rio Verde … these are people we know.”

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Scottsdale passes Rio Verde Foothills water proposal, Maricopa County has questions