Maricopa County rejects Rio Verde Foothills water proposal, calls for Scottsdale to use private provider

Mar 3, 2023, 3:55 PM

(Photo by Getty Images)...

(Photo by Getty Images)

(Photo by Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on Friday nixed a proposal from Scottsdale to temporarily supply water to the rural community of Rio Verde Foothills, instead suggesting the city use a private supplier.

Supervisor Thomas Galvin called for Scottsdale to use EPCOR, a Canadian-based utility, to provide water for nearly 1,000 residents in the unincorporated area.

“EPCOR has gone on the record stating that it will pay Scottsdale to use its existing infrastructure and will provide EPCOR-sourced water to Scottsdale to transport through its piping system,” Galvin said during the special meeting.

The Scottsdale City Council unanimously agreed on a proposed resolution Feb. 21 that would have granted Rio Verde Foothills access to water for two years with an option for a third year.

Galvin and Maricopa County immediately had questions on the proposal, which was contingent on Scottsdale 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 had to pay $1,000 per month plus $21.25 per 1,000 gallons of potable water under the Temporary Water Supply Intergovernmental Agreement.

“The proposed IGA is just a poison pill of roadblocks. It’s truly government bureaucracy at its worst,” Galvin said.

“If there’s another source of water and you have the pipes, just send the water to Rio Verde. You don’t need the county. You don’t need an IGA.”

Scottsdale has yet to comment on Maricopa County’s latest move.

Both sides have agreed that coming to a decision sooner rather than later is prudent.

Another solution could be SB 1093. The bill, brought forth by Republican Sen. John Kavanagh, would require cities to provide water to residents outside of their service areas that didn’t have an ample water supply.

Those areas also must have less than 750 houses and be without a water source within 10 miles. Rio Verde Foothills fits those stipulations, but the bill isn’t supported by the county.

“It’s unfortunate some lawmakers are advocating for bigger government and increased costs for constituents,” Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Clint Hickman, a Republican, said.

“That’s certainly not the conservative brand of government that my colleagues and I support.”

Rio Verde Foothills traditionally received water from haulers that purchased potable water from Scottsdale.

The East Valley city’s drought management plan cut off water 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.

“If you don’t have the water, then allow EPCOR to sell the water,” Galvin said. “Let them pay you. Be the good guys. But Mayor [David] Ortega won’t do it. It’s bizarre.

“We’ve got Rio Verde Foothills residents who are nervous. They’re scared. Their future is uncertain.”

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Maricopa County rejects Rio Verde Foothills water proposal, calls for Scottsdale to use private provider