Guest Editorial: Defending Scottsdale water is no vice

By Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega

Photo Credit: Arianna Grainey

This week, two significant water-related issues made the headlines. First, Governor
Hobbs acted to stop Fondomonte, the Saudi Arabia-owned alfalfa farm, to halt it
from draining billions of gallons of Arizona groundwater. Secondly, the Rio Verde
Standpipe District met state statutes and City of Scottsdale’s stringent
requirements to operate, serving Rio Verde Foothills (RVF).

Supervisor Thomas Galvin is also the Fondomonte lawyer, responsible for the
Fondomonte debacle, which the State will cancel. On the other hand, the Rio Verde
Standpipe District succeeded, despite Supervisor Galvin’s failures.

Supervisor Galvin truly is disoriented when he states, “I am still baffled why it took
so long” for hauled water (originating at Scottsdale Water facilities) to arrive in
RVF. Galvin dismisses unanimous decisions made by the Scottsdale Council.

In April 2022, Council unanimously approved the Rio Verde Foothills statuary
request to establish a RVF self-directed Domestic Water Improvement District
(DWID). But Supervisor Galvin conspired with the anti-DWID participants in April
2022, and shockingly rejected the DWID in August 2022. After years of progress,
Galvin killed the DWID at the Board of Supervisors (BOS), leaving RVF high and dry.
The January 2023 restrictions and cutoff were mandatory according to federal
declaration and state law.

In January 2023, Council unanimously approved and forwarded an
intergovernmental agreement (IGA) to Maricopa County, the jurisdiction which
serves RVF. Galvin vociferously killed the IGA, again stranding RVF constituents.
But why? Because Fondomonte lawyer Galvin promoted what he called “My plan”
or, “My elegant plan.” Galvin admitted with the help of a former councilwoman, in
2022, he went directly to Scottsdale Water staff, without City Council permission.

Co-conspirators planned backdoor access to encumber Scottsdale Water facilities.
Galvin tried to bail out unincorporated wildcat subdivisions and entangle directly
Scottsdale Water with commercial truckers and Canadian-owned EPCOR.

Galvin was busy behind the scenes. After rejecting the DWID, he continued
communication with anti-DWID protagonists, who in January 2023 filed a lawsuit
against Scottsdale. For more than a year Galvin’s maneuvers were accusatory,
counterproductive and Galvin’s anti-DWID allies filed a lawsuit which cost
Scottsdale residents $43,250 to defend.

In August 2023, Council unanimously approved the IGA with the Rio Verde
Standpipe District, which became an authorized jurisdiction by state statute, signed
by the governor. The IGA conforms to Scottsdale requirements and Supervisor
Galvin had absolutely no role in the outcome. Galvin’s claim, “I mediated the
dispute between Scottsdale and RVF” is totally untrue.

Sadly, Supervisor Galvin asserts that the unanimous Council actions “will be a
legacy of those who waged a campaign of cruelty” and, falsely disparaging “a mayor
who prioritized his selfish political interests” are Galvin’s attempts to deflect his
failures. Defending Scottsdale water rights, and protecting the investment of 93,000
metered Scottsdale customers, is no vice.