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Hobbs signs bill to restore water services to Rio Verde Foothills

Scottsdale will be required to provide water to hundreds of homes in Rio Verde Foothills once again. Gov. Katie Hobbs on Monday signed a bill to temporarily bring water back to the unincorporated community. 

Scottsdale cut off water sales to Rio Verde Foothills in January due to drought. Lawmakers have made  multiple failed attempts at a legislative solution since. The law Hobbs agreed to will form a temporary water agency to negotiate water sales between Scottsdale and Rio Verde Foothills for the next three years. The idea is to buy time while utility provider EPCOR seeks approval to become a long-term provider.

Hobbs  had encouraged lawmakers to send her a bill that would address the loopholes in Arizona's water policies that allowed homes to be built in Rio Verde Foothills without an assured water supply in the first place. But language to address so-called "wildcat subdivisions"  did not make it into the final version of the bill. 

"While it isn't perfect, I'm glad we were able to deliver relief for the residents of Rio Verde Foothills," Hobbs said in a statement. "Moving forward, I will keep working across the aisle to protect water for every Arizonan and ensure we continue our growth and make Arizona the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Rep. Alexander Kolodin, who worked on the legislation, said Arizona’s water troubles are serious, but they should be solvable.

“We cannot continue to kick the can down the road forever," Kolodin said.

The city of Scottsdale opposed previous attempts by the legislature to force it to provide water. But the Scottsdale city manager’s office  has said the city is ready to cooperate with this plan.

Hear Scottsdale City Councilwoman Solange Whitehead's interview with host Mark Brodie on The Show

solange-whitehead-rio-verde-mb-show-20230620.mp3

The situation has generated a lot of controversy over the past several months, as residents worried about where they were going to get water, and different levels of government disagreed over whose responsibility it was to make it happen.

The Show was joined by Scottsdale City Councilwoman Solange Whitehead to talk more about it.

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.