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Rio Verde Foothills Water Troubles Nearly Over After Scottsdale Vote

September 10, 2023

By Daniel Stefanski |

An Arizona community’s months-long wrangling over water will be coming to a temporary end.

On Tuesday, the Scottsdale City Council voted to adopt Resolution No. 12892, which is an agreement to provide water for the Rio Verde Foothills Standpipe District.

According to a press release issued by the City of Scottsdale in the days leading up to the Council’s vote, the agreement stipulates that “Scottsdale’s own water resources will not be used, and the rate charged to the standpipe district is set so that costs are fully recovered on behalf of the Scottsdale residents who pay for the infrastructure and operation of the city’s water system.”

That September 1st press release from the City of Scottsdale outlined three points under the agreement, including:

  • The Rio Verde Foothills Standpipe District will acquire a water supply that can be provided to Scottsdale at one of the city’s surface water treatment facilities – Scottsdale’s own water resources will not be used.
  • The city will treat the water and make it available at the Pima Road Fill Station, from which haulers contracted by the district could provide water for up to 750 customers in Rio Verde Foothills (the limit stipulated by A.R.S. 9-500.40).
  • The city’s agreement is with the district only, which may then contract with other parties as needed to supply water to Rio Verde Foothills customers; the agreement will terminate Dec. 31, 2025.

The agreement originated from the signing of SB 1432, sponsored by Senator Justine Wadsack, which “outlined requirements of a city or town that provides water service through an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with a standpipe district for a period of up to three years by use of a standpipe for water hauling to residences outside the city’s or town’s water service area that do not have access to sufficient water.”

Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs held a ceremonial signing ceremony on August 22. Two lawmakers, Wadsack and Laura Terech, were in attendance. Senator Wadsack tweeted, “Signing Ceremony in the Governor’s Tower for my bill SB 1432. The people of Rio Verde will have water again!! Water is not a partisan issue. Water is life.”

Representative Terech added, “Today, I had the honor of joining Governor Hobbs, Senator Wadsack, and the Rio Verde Foothills Standpipe District Board at the ceremonial signing of SB 1432. It was an emotional morning. For me, this bill represents the bipartisan cooperation that we will need to secure Arizona’s water future. There’s a long way to go from here and many communities who also face significant water needs, but this is a powerful step forward. I’m proud to have played an integral part in the process.”

After signing the bill in June, Hobbs stated, “This bipartisan bill shows that when we put politics aside, we can come together to solve problems for everyday Arizonans. While it isn’t perfect, I’m glad we were able to deliver relief for the residents of Rio Verde Foothills. Moving forward, I will keep working across the aisle to protect water for every Arizonan and ensure we continue our growth and make Arizona the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”

The signing of this legislation led to the Rio Verde Foothills Standpipe District’s approval of an IGA with Scottsdale, which Republican Representative Alexander Kolodin covered on September 2: “We interrupt our regularly scheduled Twitter war to bring you the news that the Rio Verde Foothills Standpipe District has just voted to approve an IGA with Scottsdale to restore water service. Now back to our program!”

Few legislators worked with more intensity at the Arizona Legislature over this issue than Kolodin in the recently completed session. It was Kolodin’s HB 2561 that was added onto SB 1432 as an amendment before both chambers sent the bill to the Governor’s Office. After SB 1432 passed the legislature, Kolodin thanked many of his colleagues, including Senator John Kavanaugh, Wadsack, Terech, and Representative David Cook, for their efforts in ensuring the proposal’s success. Kolodin wrote, “This is not the first water crisis Arizona has faced and it will not be the last. But, today, we proved that the era of kicking the can down the road is over. This legislature is ready, willing, and able to roll up its sleeves and solve the problem – together.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

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