Maricopa County supervisors reject water district proposal

Supervisor Tom Galvin, who represents the area, said he had “concerns about the long-term viability of the (water district) and its board” and was not convinced the potential costs of the district to the community had been fully addressed.|| Screenshot/3TVCBS 5

By Sasha Hupka ||Arizona Republic

Northeast Valley residents searching for water won’t find a solution in creating a water taxing district as the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted down the proposal on Wednesday.

The water issue has divided residents of Rio Verde Foothills, which is near Scottsdale and falls outside any city’s boundaries as an unincorporated area of the county.

More than 50 residents had made the hourlong drive to downtown Phoenix earlier this week for last-ditch appeals to county supervisors. The residents fall into two camps: those who supported creating a water district and those who would rather contract with a private company.

Supervisor Tom Galvin, who represents the area, said he had “concerns about the long-term viability of the (water district) and its board” and was not convinced the potential costs of the district to the community had been fully addressed.

Instead, he said he would vote “no” in hopes of contracting with a private company through the Arizona Corporation Commission.

“I make a promise that I will continue to fight for the Rio Verde Foothills community.”

Supervisor Tom Galvin

Time is ticking for Galvin and the community to nail down a solution. Scottsdale intends to cut off its water to the community at the end of the year. 

That decision will impact about 500 of the roughly 2,000 houses in Rio Vista Foothills. Those 500 homes don’t have working wells and residents have relied on private haulers who truck water in from Scottsdale.

Josh Hornewer from Rio Verde Potable Water hooks up a hose to pump water into a water tank sitting outside Meredith DeAngelis’ home in Rio Verde on Feb. 12, 2022. The tank holds 5,000 gallons of water, which DeAngelis says lasts up to one month in her household.

Water news:Arizona loses more of its Colorado River water allocation under new drought plan

Last year, amid ongoing drought conditions impacting Arizona’s supply of Colorado River water, Scottsdale officials gave the residents until 2023 to find an alternative water supply.

“We are dependent on hauled water and are facing having no water to bathe in; flush our toilets; wash our clothes, dishes, and grandchildren and children (and) water our plants and horses 129 days from now.”

Rio Verde resident Leigh Harris

For the last 16 months, some residents had been trying to get county supervisors to sign off on a domestic water improvement district, a community-controlled taxing district that would pay for water rights and the infrastructure to get it to residents.

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