Finally…A Resolution to the Rio Verde Foothills Water Crisis. For Now.

Alexander Kolodin. Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

What an incredibly tumultuous six months it has been for the residents of the Rio Verde Foothills and their pursuit of secured water supply; you can get fully up to date here. After a few head fakes and potential resolutions, it looks like finally a solution is in place.

Governor Katie Hobbs is widely assumed to sign into law HB 2561, the water security bill penned by Scottsdale Rep. Alexander Kolodin. This was after a competing bill from Rep. Gail Griffin earned a veto from Hobbs, and she strongly suggested that the legislature focus on Kolodin’s bill. There was not a veto-proof majority for Griffin’s bill, and Kolodin won out.

This bill authorizes a third party to temporarily serve the Rio Verde Foothills until water delivery company EPCOR gets legal approval to be the more permanent solution. While there is no official timeline, lawmakers are hopeful that service will start within a few months, so the community is not out of the woods just yet, but there is at least a framework of progress.

Tensions were inflamed within the community itself over the course of the last six months, as factions formed regarding the competing bills. Sentiment generally seemed to favor Griffin’s bill, but there seems to be palpable relief that their long nightmare will soon be over.

But will it? Some might say that a permanent attachment to a private company for something as vital as water could be problematic. While this year has thus far been a very positive one for snow melt up north and as such water in our state’s main reservoirs, things are looking good in the short term. But if the drought super-cycle begins in earnest again next year or soon thereafter, the town won’t be spared from major rate hikes. Of course, this can also be said in all municipalities, but dependency on providing good profit margins for something so critical may become a pain point in the future.

But for now, a sigh of relief for people who need it. We can only hope that the timeline gets finalized soon, that politicians don’t screw this up, and that the residents can move on to less pressing concerns.