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Officials Say Rio Verde Foothills May Have Temporary Fix for Water Woes

By February 16, 2023No Comments

By Sasha Hupka | Arizona Republic

After nearly seven weeks without a stable water supply, residents of Rio Verde Foothills may be able to rest easy — for now.

After a series of talks with Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, Scottsdale and Maricopa County are officially working on an agreement to temporarily provide water to the community, which was cut off by the city at the start of the year.

The details are hazy. The county has yet to make any decisions about where the water might come from, officials said, and county attorneys still need to review any proposed agreements.

Both the Scottsdale City Council and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors would need to vote in favor of whatever deal is proposed.

And it’s unclear when water might start flowing to the haulers who serve about 1,000 people in the unincorporated community. Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega said he plans to have a possible intergovernmental agreement with the county on next week’s City Council agenda.

If the council and county supervisors approve his proposed deal, water can be immediately available to the haulers, he said in a news release from the city Thursday.

“I met with (Cook) in person over the weekend and reviewed specific deal points,” Ortega told The Republic in a Thursday morning text message. “We will consider the issue in public forum.”

His envisioned agreement would reopen water haulers’ access to a city standpipe near its northeastern boundary. In exchange, Maricopa County would give the city water from a third party to provide to Rio Verde Foothills residents and pay the city for treating the water and routing it through its pipes.

It comes with some stipulations, according to the news release. Scottsdale expects the county to attempt to limit building in the community to the extent possible by state law, and if the amount of water given to Scottsdale is reduced for any reason, including drought, the city will reduce the amount of water it gives to Rio Verde Foothills residents.

Meanwhile, Maricopa County Supervisor Tom Galvin, who represents the district encompassing Rio Verde Foothills, said logistical details still need to be hammered out between the two parties.

“Now we’re in the negotiation phase,” Galvin said. “We need to see what Scottsdale wants, and then we need to tell them what we see happening. … To me, there’s some pretty important items that need to be ticked off, and I’m going to do this in a prudent, responsible, diligent way.”

Still, all seemed optimistic that a deal could be reached after discussions with Cook and an opinion from Attorney General Kris Mayes — even if the timeline and who should get the credit for the compromise is murky.

“I would hope that it would take a few weeks, and I think it will,” Galvin said.

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