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Bill to bring water back to Rio Verde Foothills heads to governor's desk

Hundreds of homes in Rio Verde Foothills have been without a reliable source of water since Scottsdale ended water sales to the community in January. Now, a bill headed to the governor's desk could force Scottsdale to turn the taps back on. 

House Bill 2441, sponsored by Republican House member Gail Griffin, would require large cities like Scottsdale to continue providing water for nearby communities like Rio Verde Foothills for at least three years. It would also require cities’ drought management plans to allow for such arrangements. The House and Senate both approved the bill this week, but it still needs final approval from the governor.

Another House bill,  HB 2561, from Republican Alexander Kolodin, would create a new government body called a standpipe district to work out water agreements between Scottsdale and Rio Verde Foothills. That bill passed in the House last week, but needs a vote in the Senate and lawmakers are now headed out on a four-week break.

The city of Scottsdale opposed both bills. The city ended water sales to the unincorporated neighboring community of Rio Verde Foothills because of the worsening crisis on the Colorado River. Scottsdale gets the majority of its water from the Colorado River, and the city  activated its drought management plan earlier than many other Arizona cities. 

Both bills propose only short-term fixes for Rio Verde Foothills. Utility provider Epcor is  seeking approval from the Arizona Corporation Commission to provide water for the community on the long-term. 

Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent reporting on a variety of issues, including public health and climate change.