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With cutoffs looming, Scottsdale denies request to extend water deliveries in Rio Verde Foothills

With less than two weeks until taps go dry for some homes in Rio Verde Foothills, the city of Scottsdale has denied a request to extend water delivery services to the unincorporated community. 

Hundreds of homes in Rio Verde Foothills rely on water that gets hauled in trucks from Scottsdale. But because of  severe drought, Scottsdale  will no longer allow that starting in January.

Rio Verde Foothills is hoping a private company called EPCOR can eventually build infrastructure to bring water to the community, but that could take years, so residents petitioned Scottsdale to strike a deal with the company for water deliveries in the meantime.

"This proposal will not use any water allocated to the City of Scottsdale and would reimburse the city for all costs incurred," petitioners wrote. "If the city of Scottsdale does not enter into an agreement with EPCOR, residents of Rio Verde will be held hostage to unregulated, wildcat water haulers who have uncertain access to water." 

But in a response from Scottsdale City Manager Jim Thompson's office, the city said deliveries are not sustainable.

"During the many years that RVF has been using Scottsdale’s water, the city did not have the ability to recycle this water for its own use," the response said. "The unlimited and unregulated growth of this surrounding community is also not calculated in Scottsdale’s General or Master Plan regarding an assured water supply."  

Scottsdale said its priority is to its residents and it can’t be responsible for the needs of another community. Scottsdale said it should be Maricopa County’s responsibility to find a long-term solution for Rio Verde Foothills.

Rio Verde Foothills recently  reached a preliminary deal to buy water from the San Carlos Apache Tribe, but that plan still needs final approval.

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Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent. She has produced work for NPR, New England Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio, PRI's The World, Washington Post, Reuters and more.She has a master’s degree in radio journalism from the USC Annenberg School of Journalism.She lives in central Phoenix with her husband, two daughters, and ill-behaved cat and dog. Her side-passions include photography, crosswords and hot sauce.