Rio Verde Foothills Updates: Mayor Ortega is Softening His Tone, and New AG Mayes Weighs In

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The ongoing water crisis with the Rio Verde Foothills is indeed a very difficult situation for the residents there with many moving parts from the legal and legislative side, especially with summer coming. As the residents seek any good options, the battle lines had been drawn with Mayor Ortega taking a staunch position against using city resources to help.

Given the gravity of the moment, there have since been numerous developments which have further codified potential actions as legal or not, and have signaled that Mayor Ortega’s opposition may be softening and a solution may be near. Indeed, the subject is gaining statewide and national attention in a way that could threaten Ortega’s re-election chances.

First, the news came out that the Scottsdale city council will consider action in conjunction to alleviate the water crisis at Rio Verde Foothills. This draft agreement states that the city could work with Maricopa County: the county could procure 3rd party water which the city could treat and deliver it to the residents with a fee, all in a way that is still in compliance with the city’s drought management plan. Mayor Ortega’s positive statements imply that there was significant pushback from a few different directions, and that standing in the way of reasonable solutions was no longer a strategically sound decision.

This comes in the wake of the decision by new Attorney General Kris Mayes, where her office came through with a decision helping to facilitate this. Her office stated that the county does indeed have the ability to serve as a temporary water intermediary for the community, thus clearing away any potential legal uncertainty as to the legality of this potential solution.

In response, Mayor David Ortega is quoted as saying that Mayes’ opinion is “good news” and that the county “bears the direct responsibility to resolve the needs of their constituents”. Going further, he goes on to pin blame on the crisis on “unbridled wildcat subdivisions without 100-year assured water and real estate disclosure omissions – must be corrected by the Arizona Legislature”.

The proposal will be voted on in the Scottsdale city council tonight the 21st, and since the most vocal opponent of such an agreement now seems to be on board, it seems apparent that it will pass, and that the crisis will soon be averted.

If so, we are happy to see some degree of resolution for the residents of the Rio Verde Foothills. That said, there are still many questions to be answered even if this short-term resolution is voted in.