Lawsuit Filed Against City of Scottsdale for Rio Verde Foothills Water Scandal

A group of Arizona citizens residing in the Rio Verde Foothills (RVF) area outside of Scottsdale sued the City Thursday for cutting off its water supply, which they claim is vital for their community.

“There are approximately 500 households in Rio Verde Foothills which rely upon hauled water obtained from the Scottsdale Standpipe to serve their daily needs for domestic water,” according to the complaint. “Plaintiffs rely solely upon a source of water owned and provided by the City of Scottdale. The City has provided water service to the RVF community for over 30 years.”

The Arizona Sun Times reached out to the City of Scottsdale for a response to the lawsuit but did not hear back before publishing.

In the lawsuit, plaintiffs wrote that their onsite water storage tanks would likely run dry before January ends. As for their legal argument, the plaintiffs state that by cutting off their water supply, the City is violating Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) § 9-515(C). Under the law, a city or town which “renders utility service outside of its boundaries, shall not discontinue such service, once established,” as long as the municipality owns or controls the utility.

Moreover, the plaintiffs argued that the city would not immediately suffer harm by providing the RVF area water. EPCOR, a water utility company, is set to establish a permanent standpipe water supply to the people of RVF. In November, the Arizona Corporation Commission approved the first step in getting this project underway. However, even with approval, EPCOR estimated it would take two to three years to get the standpipe up and running.

Yet, the plaintiffs shared that EPCOR proposed to provide water to the Central Arizona Project (CAP), which would be available to Scottsdale, at no cost. Additionally, EPCOR would even pay the City to treat water for human consumption.

“Under EPCOR’s proposal, Scottsdale will be able to continue providing standpipe water to the RVF community without using any of Scottsdale’s water resources at no out-of-pocket cost to Scottsdale or is citizens for the next2 to 3 years,” the Plaintiffs stated.

According to 12 News, Scottsdale has stated it will not work with any external companies to provide water to the RVF community.

Nonetheless, the residents ask that the court stay and restrain Scottsdale from cutting off the RVF community. Many residents allegedly have no other reliable source to get water from.

As reported by The Arizona Sun Times, this shut-off from Scottsdale has been a long time coming. A memo from the City states that in 2016 it recognized that continuing to supply the ever-expanding RVF area with water was “not a sustainable solution.”

RVF is an unincorporated area and falls under the governance of Maricopa County Board of Supervisors member Thomas Galvin. Scottsdale shared that it contacted the county and RVF residents multiple times since 2020, expressing that the City is not meant to be a permanent water source and that a shut-off was inevitable. Now that the time has come, the City states that the decision to terminate water relations with the RVF was to prioritize water for its own citizens per its drought management plan.

However, the state Legislature is now getting involved. State Rep. David Cook (R-Globe) introduced House Bill (HB) 2411, which states that any city which provided water to consumers outside that City before January 1st, 2023, could face financial responsibility if it terminates the service. The burden would include fire damages to personal property, children’s health problems due to the termination, and attorney fees.

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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Maricopa County Courthouse” by Zeb Micelli. CC0 1.0.



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