Finally, a Chapter is Closed and the Rio Verde Foothills Water Crisis is Finally Over…Probably

It has been one of the biggest crises in recent Arizona history, one that has made national headlines as a potential canary in a coalmine to larger impending water issues in the state. And after too many back-and-forths, politically charged statements and in-fighting, it looks like this chapter is closed: the Rio Verde Foothills water crisis is officially over.

First of all, if you’re not too familiar with the issue, we invite you to check out our extensive coverage, which you can find here.

As for the official end to this chapter, how did it come about? A near-term fix came in the form of a standpipe district, a governing body led by members of the community. However this would only hold until 2025, after which there would be a risk of another contentious, slow-moving, and bitter battle for something more lasting.

Thankfully for the community, the Arizona Corporation Commission voted in favor of allowing a permanent solution in the form of an agreement with water provider Epcor. That said, it will be a tight timeline to build the infrastructure and complete delivery before the standpipe district expires, one that the utility is aware of . With estimates of 24 and 36 months to build out the infrastructure and no immediate bridge solution if it runs behind schedule, yet again it seems as though the Rio Verde Foothills might not be exempt from future problems.

According to Epcor’s general counsel and VP of public policy Thomas Loquvam, “We’ll do everything in our power to make it happen. But right now, there’s too many variables for me to say one way or another that we know for sure when it’s going to happen.” While clearly Loquvam won’t make any promises, the residents must have read this statement with concern. It doesn’t exactly scream confidence, after all.

This agreement also comes with some limitations, as Epcor is clearly putting a foot down with regards to new construction. According to the Arizona Republic, “Property owners who have not yet built homes in the Foothills can also sign up for service, but Epcor will restrict such enrollments to 150 homes. If more sign up, the company will conduct a lottery to distribute the service slots.” This is in addition to a $24,000 hookup fee for newly built homes. Ouch.

So while there is reason for a deep, long sigh of relief for homeowners in the Rio Verde Foothills, yet again we cannot say that they are entirely out of the woodwork in the long term. A lot of this will come down to Epcor’s ability to build out infrastructure, an item that might be more out of the hands of the residents than anything else they’ve encountered before.