Rio Verde Water Crisis Leaves Future Uncertain for Residents

Andrew Phillips, News Editor

Amid a major drought, one Arizona community is struggling to acquire the most basic of needs: water. Due to a municipal issue with the city of Scottsdale, Rio Verde Foothills has completely lost access to their typical supply from the city. While some Rio Verde residents have access to private wells, over 500 people are completely without access to water. As the community continues to expand, the drying out of wells combined with the rescission of the water contract with Scottsdale has led to a serious crisis with dire consequences.

It’s difficult to place blame during this situation, but some believe this was mainly a problem of planning on Rio Verde’s part. CHS Environmental Science teacher Mr. Davis says, “What has happened in Rio Verde…is where homes and a community have been built without sufficient planning to ensure that they have enough water to supply that community.” The CIty of Scottsdale warned the community for over half a decade that the water supply would be cut off, but the afflurent community of Rio Verde continued to expand, with a median home price increasing to 625,000 dollars. When a plan was proposed to give the community access to water and a subsequent increase in taxes, their response was unexpected. “The residents of Rio Verde put forward a plan to form their own water district where, essentially, just like Chandler…they would have their own water treatment and resources…but that would cost the residents there a lot of money. And, as a result, they voted no on this,” Mr. Davis explains. Some argue that the problem has been glaringly obvious for a long while, but the unfortunate citizens of Rio Verde are suffering from the city’s decision to place their money at a higher priority than water access.

The people of Rio Verde are incensed about Maricopa County’s decision to cease supplying water to the rural community. In an interview with 12 News in response to this decision, county supervisor Thomas Galvin of District 2, which includes Rio Verde Foothills, said, “Cutting off water is absolutely atrocious and is a black mark in the history of Arizona. What we’re all sick of is publicity stunts…[and] false information from Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega, and his inability to help these folks find a source of water.” With no definitive resolution to either side’s woes, all signs point to this dilemma lasting for many more years to come.