State legislators discuss possible water solutions with Rio Verde Foothills residents

Sen. John Kavanaugh said he’s ready to introduce a bill if the City of Scottsdale doesn’t willingly help Rio Verde Foothills residents.
Published: Jan. 29, 2023 at 10:04 PM MST
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SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Over a hundred people gathered at the Reigning Grace Ranch in Rio Verde Foothills Sunday afternoon. Representatives Alexander Kolodin, Gail Griffin, Joseph Chaplik, and Sen. John Kavanagh joined the community at a town hall meeting to discuss short and long-term solutions for the community to have access to water.

During the meeting, Sen. John Kavanagh said he’s ready to introduce a bill if the City of Scottsdale doesn’t willingly help Rio Verde Foothills residents. “This bill says all Scottsdale has to do is pipe it through, as they’ve been doing for many years. The water comes from elsewhere. They’ll be fully reimbursed. And if for any reason, Scottsdale residents wind up short of water, this deal stops because Scottsdale residents are treated first by Scottsdale,” said Sen. Kavanagh.

We’re told the bill could take a couple of weeks, as short as four weeks, to go through the Capitol. If it does, an emergency clause will be slapped onto it. That means the bill would become law immediately if Gov. Katie Hobbs signs off on it.

This comes as the Rio Verde Foothills community waits for EPCOR, a Canadian water company, to receive approval from the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) to become its water source. However, even if the ACC gives its approval, it could take EPCOR three years to be up and running.

In the meantime, Rep. David Cook designed a short-term plan to haul water from the Gila River Indian Community and have Scottsdale process it. However, that plan would still need approval from the City of Scottsdale, a council vote, and permission from the Gila River Indian community. “Mayor David Ortega is spitting in the face of Scottsdale residents, like me, who believe that what he’s doing is cruel,” said Rep. Kolodin. “That’s when we need to step in and say, ‘Look, cities, you’re political subdivisions of the state. You are inferior to the state. We have power over you, and if you abuse your authority that we have given you, we can take measures to stop that.”

Cody Reim, a resident, said Rep. Kolodin and Rep. Griffin surveyed the community a week ago and did not like how families struggled to get by. Reim said if the City of Scottsdale does not help out soon, community members have planned protests during the Super Bowl and Phoenix Open. Mayor David Ortega and council members were invited to attend the meeting.

The city released a statement ahead of the town hall:

However, Councilwoman Tammy Caputi did attend. She received a round of applause from Rio Verde Foothills residents attending the town hall meeting. Reim, who announced her attendance, said she could not comment due to the active lawsuit against the City of Scottsdale by some Rio Verde Foothills residents.