By Meredith DeAngelis, Rio Verde Foothills resident
The City of Scottsdale will shut off access to water for approximately 500 Arizona homes that rely solely on hauled water. Homeowners need immediate action from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (BOS) before water stops for residents at the end of 2022.
For over 20 years the City of Scottsdale has provided access to water for hauling to residents living in the Rio Verde Foothills just outside of the city’s boundaries (east of 136th Street and Dynamite). All water haulers (both commercial and private) have been notified by the City of Scottsdale that, as of December 31, 2022, they will no longer be able to haul water outside of the city boundaries. Approximately 500 homes that rely solely on hauled water will be impacted. Over 48 million gallons of water a year is being transported to homes in the Rio Verde Foothills, the majority of which comes from the City of Scottsdale.
A small group of volunteer residents have been working to establish a Domestic Water Improvement District (DWID). A DWID is a county improvement district that is formed for the purpose of constructing or improving a domestic water delivery system or purchasing an existing domestic water delivery system.
The BOS must first approve the DWID and would oversee its operation, which would be managed by an elected board of residents within the DWID boundaries. The DWID petition was originally submitted and accepted by the Clerk of the BOS on February 17, 2021. The DWID was put on the BOS agenda in April, and then continued to May, then June, and finally August. At the August meeting, the BOS postponed a decision indefinitely. Now that a new supervisor, Tom Galvin, has been appointed for District 2 which includes the Rio Verde Foothills, residents hope they will get the immediate attention needed to secure water for their homes. In the meantime, water supply options diminish, acquisition costs increase, competition for purchasing available water supplies increases, and Scottsdale’s cutoff date looms.
The proponents of the DWID have committed to securing a legally dedicated and renewable source of water from outside the area. The main water source being considered will start accepting contracts for water at the beginning of this year. If the DWID is not approved by the BOS, the chances to access this water source diminishes as there are also others that are looking to obtain that water.
Finding an outside source of water is critical for the community. As new homes continue to be built in the area, or existing residents attempt to drill to secure their own source, more water will be pulled out of an already diminishing aquifer. Numerous wells have already gone dry, and others no longer produce enough water to live on, resulting in the need for hauled water.
The forecast for increased drought and stricter drought management practices, combined with the scarcity of water sources, complicates the path to any quick solutions for the homeowners of the Rio Verde Foothills. It is critical that the DWID attains the support of the BOS and the newly appointed District 2 supervisor to secure water for these homes. Time is of the essence.