Maricopa County rejects Rio Verde Foothills request for its own water district

By Phil Latzman
Published: Wednesday, August 31, 2022 - 11:30am
Updated: Thursday, September 1, 2022 - 9:43am

John Hornewer’s 6,000 gallon tanker
Phil Latzman/KJZZ
John Hornewer’s 6,000 gallon tanker truck brings the potable water to the Rio Verde Foothills neighborhood.

Maricopa County’s Board of Supervisors on Wednesday denied a request by some residents of a small unincorporated community to form its own water district.

Facing a cutoff from their supply next year, about 550 people in Rio Verde Foothills proposed to manage a Domestic Water Improvement District — or DWID — to continue hauling water to the area.

But Supervisor Thomas Galvin, who represents the area, says the majority of residents were opposed to the idea and called it a massive undertaking.

“I have my concerns about the long term viability of the DWID and its board. I’ve not been satisfied that the questions involving costs have been fully answered despite the good faith efforts of the petitioners,” Galvin said. “A new governmental entity would be disruptive to the rural, independent lifestyle and spirit of the community.”

Rio Verde Foothills homeowner Meredith DeAngelis
Phil Latzman/KJZZ
Rio Verde Foothills homeowner Meredith DeAngelis points to her water tank in 2022.

Due to the ongoing drought, Scottsdale informed residents of the Rio Verde Foothills that it could no longer sell water to them starting in 2023. Galvin hopes the city can extend its deadline while a more permanent solution to haul water to the community is found.

The utility Epcor has submitted a proposal to serve the area.

On Monday, Foothills residents argued for and against the proposed district.

Attorney Jeff Crockett represented those in favor, saying residents had the right to do so in Arizona statutes.

“DWID’s operate successfully throughout the state of Arizona," said Crockett. "There is 100% consent among those properties that would be included in the DWID. No one is being compelled to join the DWID. There is no alternative at this time before the board of supervisors and time is running out.”

But many residents are opposed to the idea, including Kristy Jackman, who believed it was an infringement on property rights.

”They’re going to monopolize the water in our area, where 2,200 homes exist that always use water, and they’re going to have to charge us extra. Because if a DWID forms, there will be no other alternative for us," said Jackman.

→ These Arizona residents are in danger of being cut off from their water supply

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