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Scottsdale approves agreement with Maricopa County to temporarily help Rio Verde Foothills

Posted at 10:37 AM, Feb 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-22 12:37:46-05

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — The City of Scottsdale has approved a temporary agreement that aims to help residents of the unincorporated community of Rio Verde Foothills.

The agreement will now head to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors for a vote. But more delays are possible, as the county says they were not involved in drafting the terms of the agreement.

"I'm so very glad that it passed," says Christy Jackman, a Rio Verde Foothills resident.

Several Rio Verde Foothills residents made their way to Scottsdale for Tuesday's city council meeting.

This comes two months after they were cut off from the city's water supply. Residents had been warned for years this could become a reality under a drought contingency plan.

"Thank you. That is unanimous," says Mayor David Ortega, City of Scottsdale.

The temporary two-year agreement says the city of Scottsdale would be in charge of choosing a water supplier and treating the water in their facility. On the other side, Maricopa County would handle the delivery process to the Rio Verde Foothills community, oversee water quality, and bill customers.

"This is a great start. I do think there should be some room for negotiation," says Wendy Walker, Rio Verde Foothills resident.

The city says they would need to obtain up to 600 acre-feet of water from a third-party source and supply the county with 126 acre-feet of water a year.

"There's about 352 acre-feet left on the table that they would keep, which seems to be elevating the costs," says Cody Reim, a Rio Verde Foothills resident.

The cost is another issue being raised. Rio Verde Foothills customers were charged $7 per 1,000 gallons of water in the past and it will now jump to $21. That amount does not include other costs, like getting the water hauled.

"You got to look at where we were at just 52 days ago. We were at just $300 a month for my family so, you can't say $1100 a month is a cost savings," says Cody.

The county would also be required to pay the city $1,000 per month under the agreement.

All of that is top of mind for Maricopa County Supervisor Thomas Galvin.

He sent a letter to key stakeholders on Tuesday, saying the agreement "will need to be discussed, addressed, and rectified, as part of a negotiation process, if the proposal is to move forward."

Galvin also points out a plan he proposed last year with a private water company that would be of no cost to the county.

He says the solution remains available.

"We actually had options of free water. So, to be told that they are now going to make us buy 600 acre-feet is a little concerning," says Christy.

Residents are also concerned that the agreement only pertains to existing residents and won't allow for self-hauling.