Rio Verde residents furious at Scottsdale leadership after county rejects city’s ‘impractical’ water proposal

By Tom Scanlon | Scottsdale Progress

There was joy in what might be called “Dirtville” – can’t call it Mudville, it’s too dry.

Then, after a few days of bright optimism, Rio Valley Foothills (aka Dirtville) had its hopes for a quick water solution dashed.

At a Friday, March 3, meeting, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors forcefully rejected a Scottsdale proposal–which RVF residents seemed to embrace–to temporarily provide water to the county island outside the city’s northeast border.

The county formally slapped the city in the face, passing a resolution that “rejects city of Scottsdale’s intergovernmental agreement as impractical, inefficient and overly burdensome” and calling on Scottsdale to reach an agreement with EPCOR.”

“And we still don’t have water,”  Rio Verde resident Karen Pollari Nabity yelled, as she stormed out of the meeting.

And a political situation getting deeply personal shows no quick solution.

Several Maricopa County Board of Supervisors bashed Scottsdale and its mayor, blaming the city’s elected officials for denying water to Rio Verde Foothills for more than two months. Supervisor Thomas Galvin said “David Ortega has embarrassed us on the national stage and I’m not going to stand for it.”  Supervisor Steve Gallardo said “the Scottsdale mayor needs to get off his little high horse.”

The City of Scottsdale and Ortega responded in a joint statement, saying:

“The Scottsdale City Council unanimously approved a proposed agreement that would assist Maricopa County in providing water to county residents in Rio Verde Foothills.

“The City of Scottsdale recognizes that Maricopa County may have concerns with elements of that proposal, but rather than directing their staff to work with the city on those concerns, they rejected Scottsdale’s offer of assistance outright. Maricopa County is the local government for Rio Verde Foothills and today’s action makes it clear that they want to wash their hands of the matter and make Scottsdale responsible for their constituents.

“Should Maricopa County want to re-engage on Scottsdale’s draft intergovernmental agreement, it remains on the table.”

Ortega said in his statement” “It is unfortunate that Supervisor Galvin continues to deflect his responsibilities to me. Conversely, I will continue to serve my constituents and continue to protect Scottsdale Water from those who would commandeer our facilities.”

 At a Feb. 21 meeting, after Scottsdale City Council voted unanimously on an agenda item titled “Temporary Water Supply Intergovernmental Agreement” and called “a giant step forward” by one council member, Rio Valley Foothills residents were guardedly thrilled.

Galvin quickly attacked that plan, insisting “My plan is better”–referring to a plan in which private utility EPCOR would provide the water to Scottsdale.

In emails to the Progress before the March 3 meeting, Ortega defended his plan and went after Galvin’s motivations.

Insisting Scottsdale’s plan for RVF “is comprehensive and protects Scottsdale  residents, businesses, schools and essential services,” Ortega said Galvin “goes for the sound bite” and is “an annoyance…”

 “And Galvin’ s law firm represents two of the largest home builders in Rio Verde (Toll Brothers and Meritage),” Ortega stated.

“I strongly suggest he recuse himself, entirely. He needs to  quit trying to get into Scottsdale Water business so  developers  can build  dry lot subdivisions in the county.”

According to the law firm’s website, “Thomas Galvin is a partner at Rose Law Group and his legal career has been spent fighting for and on behalf of homeowners, property owners, farmers, and small business owners. His legal practice focuses on land use, real estate, and water law.”

Rose Law Group includes Meritage, Toll Brothers and other real estate developers on its “representative clients” list.

Galvin told the Progress he was offended by Ortega’s statement.

“My law firm doesn’t represent any builders that are looking to get a single drop of water from the standpipe, but I suspect Mayor Ortega already knew this,” Galvin said.

“Mayor Ortega continues to be focused on lobbing false or misleading allegations at me while I remain focused on trying to get increasingly desperate families the water that they so urgently need and getting this resolved for the City of Scottsdale.”


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March 2023