Guest Editorial: Galvin Applauds Law Addressing Rio Verde Foothills Water Crisis, But Has Concerns

By Supervisor Thomas Galvin

Maricopa County Supervisor Thomas Galvin says he’s “cautiously optimistic” about a new law that seeks to end the water crisis in Rio Verde Foothills (RVF). Governor Katie Hobbs signed Senate Bill 1432 yesterday, which should, hopefully, get water flowing to RVF quickly. SB 1432 sets up a standpipe district that will enter into an agreement with the City of Scottsdale to allow RVF community members on hauled water to draw from the standpipe Scottsdale shut down on January 1, 2023. Galvin has advocated for a form of a “treat and transport plan” for the last year.

“I have had this goal for a long time: get water from a private water company to RVF, as soon as possible, with no harm to Scottsdale,” said Galvin, who represents both Rio Verde Foothills and Scottsdale in District 2.

The biggest task was finding a long-term water provider to RVF so that Scottsdale would no longer have to serve RVF residents who rely on hauled water. “I completed that task,” said Galvin. “Last year, I worked on a long-term solution with EPCOR, a private water utility who stepped up and filed with the Arizona Corporation Commission (Docket # W-01303A-22-0264) for permission to build its own standpipe to service the area.” The Corporation Commission has been diligent in its efforts, working responsibly through this issue and is expected to make a final ruling later this summer.

However, since it would take approximately two years for EPCOR to construct its standpipe, a short-term water solution for the RVF community was necessary. Galvin states, “I have been consistent in my goal-oriented advocacy for well over a year on a short-term plan. Get water to RVF folks as soon as possible, and concurrently, benefit the City of Scottsdale by a using a treat and transport agreement with a private water utility company that would wheel its own sourced water through Scottsdale’s existing standpipe, at Pima and Jomax, and then pay Scottsdale for infrastructure usage.” That plan would financially benefit Scottsdale, would not involve one drop of Scottsdale water, and it would get water to RVF folks immediately. Galvin continues, “Unfortunately, we had one major obstructionist — Scottdale mayor David Ortega — but this legislation will no longer permit continued obstinacy. The Governor and the Legislature now officially agree with me on this point.”

“I still believe Scottsdale entering into a sensible agreement with a private water utility like EPCOR is the most efficient plan that did not require creating another layer of government,” said Galvin. “Needlessly creating additional bureaucracy when a sound private third-party based solution was attainable is concerning to me as a conservative Republican. But SB 1432, an emergency measure that means the law will take effect immediately, seems like the compromise to fast-track water to RVF in the short-term.” Galvin continues, “The time for political games is over and David Ortega should honor the wishes of the Governor and the Legislature. I applaud Governor Hobbs and the Legislature for their efforts.”