Rio Verde Foothills community nearing interim water solution

Aug 23, 2023, 4:35 AM | Updated: 5:33 am

Rio Verde Foothills water...

Meredith DeAngelis speaks about how Rio Verde Foothills’ standpipe district board has been working towards a water solution. (Luke Forstner/KTAR News)

(Luke Forstner/KTAR News)

PHOENIX — After months of uncertainty, an interim water solution seems to be on the horizon for Rio Verde Foothills, a rural community outside Scottsdale.

This week, Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs held a celebratory signing event for a bill she officially signed into law earlier this summer. It allows the community to form a standpipe district to secure water.

“To the residents of Rio Verde, thank you for being patient and for using your voices to advocate for your community,” Hobbs said. “This was not an easy lift, but it was a necessary one, and we’re all better off for it.”

The law was brought forth by legislators – and eventually signed – after months of disagreement between Maricopa County supervisors, the city of Scottsdale, and even Rio Verde Foothills residents about the best way forward.

Hobbs believes the eventual solution is an example of bipartisan cooperation on important water issues.

“We will need this type of collaboration, understanding, and mutual respect as we continue the work of securing out water future,” she stressed. “and I’m optimistic that we can get that done.”

A community effort

Meredith DeAngelis and her family have lived in Rio Verde Foothills for over a decade, and now she’s the chair of the newly established standpipe district.

She explained that the board has hit the ground running.

“We took our oath of office, established a website for communications, started in July with open meetings,” DeAngelis said. “We just have a lot of setting up billings and systems, that type of stuff. We’re also doing some community census, just to find out how many people are dependent on hauled water.”

DeAngelis said now they’re working with Scottsdale and private utility Epcor to finalize an interim water solution – and work towards a long-term plan.

“We’re in negotiations with the City of Scottsdale, we still need to use that infrastructure that we were using previously,” she explained. “Also we’re in negotiations with Epcor, who will be providing an outside source of water.”

When will an agreement be reached?

DeAngelis said she believes the community isn’t far off.

“Really, we’re hoping something within the next 30 days,” she said.

There are still some questions that haven’t been answered, like how much water will cost under this new plan.

“The water cost from what people are doing today [privately hauling water] should be significantly lower,” DeAngelis said. “Probably not back to what it once was, I don’t think it’ll ever be there.”

With a potential solution in sight, DeAngelis also praised her neighbors for how they’ve weathered the hot summer months.

“People have helped with horses, there are people who have made donations for water for some who are struggling financially,” she said. “I’d certainly say the community has really stepped up in making sure everyone is doing okay this summer.”

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Rio Verde Foothills community nearing interim water solution