Hobbs' Water Policy Council recommends actions to rein in 'wildcat subdivisions'

Published: Wednesday, November 29, 2023 - 3:43pm
Updated: Wednesday, November 29, 2023 - 4:59pm

Gov. Katie Hobbs this year created a Water Policy Council tasked with protecting the state’s groundwater. The group is now putting forward recommendations for how the state should address so-called “wildcat subdivisions.”

"Wildcat subdivision" refers to a loophole where developers divide property into fewer than six lots in rural areas and skirt a state requirement to prove the homes will have enough water for 100 years. The practice is what led to hundreds of homes in Rio Verde Foothills being cut off from water for most of this year.

“This proposal may not entirely eliminate the prospect of another Rio Verde Foothills, and yes, it probably does need more fine-tuning, but anything and everything that reduces the prospect of another Rio Verde Foothills happening is a worthwhile effort,” Paul Bergelin with the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association said during the Governor's Water Policy Council meeting Wednesday. 

The council's recommendations to lawmakers include more clearly defining what counts as a contiguous lot. The council is also recommending lawmakers give counties and municipalities more authority to investigate potential subdivision violations earlier in the permitting process.

Some on the council worried the recommendations would add too many hurdles for developers. Others commented that the proposals wouldn't go far enough to rein in unsustainable construction. 

“That’s the fine balance that we have to strike if we’re going to get anything through the Legislature," said Kathleen Ferris with ASU's Kyl Center for Water Policy.

Politics Water