By Terri Jo Neff |
More than 700 residents, many of whom are children, have been waiting for months for government officials to find a reliable and affordable water source for Rio Verde Foothills after the City of Scottsdale shut off the taps which had supplied water to the residents for years.
But with city and Maricopa County players failing to come to a quick rescue, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) is now slated to try its hand at resolving the problem, adding yet another layer of bureaucracy that worries residents as temperatures continue to increase.
The problem dates back to Jan. 1 when Scottsdale announced its water would no longer be sold to private companies that haul water to the unincorporated Rio Verde Foothills community located north of the city. The homes are part of a wildcat development.
Scottsdale’s public explanation for ending the longtime arrangement was that it was necessary for the city’s drought management response. A variety of proposed solutions have been put forth since then, one being to leave it up to individual residents to arrange their own water purchases.
The majority of the other solutions have involved Maricopa County in some capacity. And therein lies the problem, according to many property owners and residents who believe the county board has not taken the public health situation seriously enough.
An early solution introduced in the Arizona Legislature on an emergency basis would have permitted Maricopa County to enter into an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with Scottsdale to allow water from the city to once again be used by Rio Verde Foothills residents for payment.
County supervisors rejected the IGA plan, causing the legislation to be put on the back burner while long-term political interests took priority over getting residents immediate help.
What the county supervisors proposed was to wash their hands of the problem by having Scottsdale city officials work out a deal with Canada-based EPCOR, a private utility company whose U.S. headquarters is located in Phoenix.
The Maricopa County supervisors issued a resolution to that effect in early March.
Supervisor Tom Galvin, whose District 2 encompasses Rio Verde Foothills and Scottsdale, was vocal about keeping a hands-off approach while leaving desperate residents at the mercy of a major conglomerate.
Some homeowners are also encountering problems trying to sell their property due to the lack of water service.
And with the highly bureaucratic ACC now involved, residents can only wait and see what happens. Some state lawmakers, including Rep. Alex Kolodin and Sen. John Kavanagh, continue to look into legislative options.
In the meantime, Galvin and the other county supervisors have not put forth any alternatives in the event an EPCOR solution is rejected.
Terri Jo Neff is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or send her news tips here.