Bill Supplying Water To Rio Verde Foothills Residents Heads To Senate

Bill Supplying Water To Rio Verde Foothills Residents Heads To Senate

By Daniel Stefanski |

An Arizona legislator’s persistent efforts to push one of his bills across the finish line appears to be finally paying off.

On Wednesday, Republican Representative Alex Kolodin announced that his chamber had passed HB 2561, which is “an emergency measure that directs a municipality to provide water service through a standpipe until 2026 to up to 750 households that lack access to sufficient water if those households had previously received water service from the municipality, the municipality is reimbursed for providing water service and providing this water does not reduce water available to the municipality or the households.”

The issue stemmed from an action taken by the City of Scottsdale on water hauling operations to Rio Verde Foothills, an unincorporated community of approximately 2,000 homes. According to the Arizona House fact sheet, “Scottsdale ceased providing water for hauling to Rio Verde Foothills in 2023” because the Bureau of Reclamation’s declaration of a Tier 1 shortage on the Colorado River triggered the city’s “Drought Management Plan, which required that when a Tier 1 shortage occurred, any water hauling operations would cease unless the customer could prove the hauled water was being directly supplied to a resident or business within the city’s limits.” Approximately “500-700 households depend on the delivery of hauled water” in this case.

HB 2561 passed the House with a robust bipartisan vote of 46-13 (with one vacant seat).

One of Kolodin’s colleagues shed valuable light on the bill’s slog through the chamber before its passage. Republican Representative Justin Heap reminded Arizonans that the eventual success of HB 2561 occurred on the fourth attempt to pass the bill, tweeting: “Politics is a profession defined by indolence & self-aggrandizement. Because of this, truly remarkable efforts by leaders to help the people they represent often go unnoticed & unrewarded. For this reason, I would like to acclaim my colleague @realAlexKolodin of District 3. No bill has been more fiercely contested or required more effort this year then the task of getting water to the 900 residents of Rio Verde Foothills (“RFV”) who’ve been without reliable access to water since 2022. As their House Rep Alex made it his mission to get them water. It was a herculean task for a freshman legislator, against opposition from cities, the county BofS, the Governor’s Office, even his own party. Alex was undaunted. I share the thin office wall with Kolodin & every day overheard him making calls to residents, experts, & lawmakers. His bill HB2561 failed 3 times on the House floor. Each time it failed Alex went to no votes & worked with them, addressing their concerns & amending the language, to get an agreement. The number of yes votes improved each time it failed & Alex went back to the negotiating table. In order to get an Emergency Clause in the bill & get RVF water before the summer heat, Alex would need 40 votes. So he crossed the isle & worked with House Democrats to craft a bipartisan solution. Alex was still meeting with opponents on the day of the vote to find an agreement. When the final count on HB2561 came in at 46-13 watching Alex collapse back into his chair with relief & exhaustion was one of the most memorable moments of the session for me. Little of what we do as legislators has much real impact on the lives of everyday citizens of Arizona. But 900 people in a district of a quarter million has clean drinking water bc their Rep. cared enough to fight tirelessly for them against all odds & it was inspiring to watch. @realAlexKolodin is an example to what representative government should be & LD3 is lucky to have him. Alex recently reminded me of a verse from the Torah, which is God’s counsel to those chosen to be leaders, ‘Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof’ ‘Follow justice and justice alone’ – Deut. 16:20 You exemplified that calling in this fight, my friend. I’m honored to serve with you!”

In Kolodin’s release, he shared information about the current state of events in the Rio Verde Foothills area and the objectives of his bill, writing, “The EPCOR private water company has agreed to provide a long-term solution to install their own water standpipe but this cannot be accomplished for about two years. In the interim the City of Scottsdale has agreed to provide water to the residents through EPCOR but states that they will only sign a contract with a government entity as the go between party between them and EPCOR. This bill creates a temporary standpipe district that can be that go between entity.”

Per Representative Kolodin, the Senate will have the opportunity to vote on the bill on Monday.

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

More Bureaucracy Keeps Water Desperate Rio Verde Foothills Residents In Limbo

More Bureaucracy Keeps Water Desperate Rio Verde Foothills Residents In Limbo

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.