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Bill to restore water services to Rio Verde Foothills heads to governor

A bill to restore water services for Rio Verde Foothills has passed Arizona’s House and Senate. Hundreds of homes in Rio Verde Foothills have been without water since Scottsdale ended water sales to the unincorporated community six months ago due to worsening drought conditions. This is the second time lawmakers have sent a bill to the governor to try to resolve the situation.

Gov. Katie Hobbs last month vetoed a bill that would have forced Scottsdale to turn Rio Verde’s taps back on because it passed without a clause to put it into effect immediately. And, Hobbs said, it didn’t address the loopholes that allowed Rio Verde Foothills homes to be built without water in the first place.

Rep. Alexander Kolodin’s new bill does have an emergency clause. But he couldn't get Senate President Warren Petersen on board with language to rein in so-called “wildcat subdivisions.”

“We tried everything short of twisting his arm, we just couldn’t get him to agree to that amendment,” Kolodin told House members ahead of a vote on the bill Monday.

If Hobbs now signs the bill into law, it will create a temporary government body called a Standpipe District to arrange water sales from Scottsdale to Rio Verde Foothills.

In an email, Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega referred KJZZ News to an  op-ed he wrote for the Arizona Capitol Times in which he said Kolodin’s legislation would “hijack municipal facilities.”

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