Wednesday, February 8, 2023 10:58 am

Where will Rio Verde Foothills residents’ water come from? Maricopa County supervisors vote Wednesday

Maricopa County Supervisor Thomas Galvin talks to Rio Verde Foothills residents concerned about their water supply on Feb. 4, 2022. || Jen Fifield/ The Arizona Republic

By Sasha Hupka || Arizona Republic

The future of a northeast Valley community will be decided Wednesday as county leaders vote on whether to approve a water taxing district.

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

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

No matter the perspective, time is ticking. 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.

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. The city isn’t budging on the deadline, officials say.

“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,” resident Leigh Harris told the supervisors on Monday. “Families, including us, are facing losing their homes and potentially their health. My family is currently saving gallon jugs of monsoon rain water.”

For the last 16 months, some residents have 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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