When the Tier 2 drought of the Colorado River was announced Scottsdale’s water resources were reduced. On October 21, 2021 non-residents of the city of Scottsdale, Rio Verde Foothills, were notified that they would no longer be able to utilize the city’s water supply as of January 1, 2023. Water talks had been ongoing for many years prior to the 2021 announcement.
Since the Rio Verde Foothills is an unincorporated community the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (MCBS) is the community’s most immediate government body.
Both the City of Scottsdale and a committee of Foothills residents came up with solution ideas but both were rejected by the MCBS for a variety of reasons.
Permanent solutions were and are still being discussed but the water from these decisions is years away.
As soon as the current legislative session began Rep. Kolodin LD3 dropped HB2561. His initial version saw multiple floor sessions where the bill was amended. His bill targeted any area with fewer than 750 residences that had previously been served with water but had their water cut off. Help would be for a limited time. It created a standpipe district to service only affected residents. As the bill was amended it included an emergency clause for swift enactment and it clarified that it was in violation of statute to divide a parcel of land into six or more lots by using a series of owners or conveyances. This clarification got house democrats on board but lost house republicans and alienated all republicans to the point it could not get a senate hearing.
Enter Rep. Gail Griffin’s HB2442, a bill on state trees. Griffin’s bill received a striker amendment in the senate on March 29 and changed her bill to address the water issue. There was a major difference between Griffin and Kolodin’s bills. HB2442 would not enforce building requirements, would not create a standpipe district and offered no emergency clause. Her bill passed both chambers but was vetoed by the governor. See the governor’s veto letter here.
Finally, SB1432 by Sen. Justine Wadsack was a bill on assured water supply already making its way through the legislative bill process. After Rep. Griffin’s bill was vetoed, SB1432 was modified to address many of the issues in Kolodin’s bill except “wildcat subdivisions and lot splitting”. It did contain the standpipe district creation and emergency clause and is still a temporary fix. The governor signed the bill on June 19th. Find the summary of the signed bill here.
While a permanent solution with a water provider is developed residents of Rio Verde Foothills should be able to access water via the standpipe within a couple of months. The permanent fix could be up to two years away.