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Rio Verde water debate postponed until next year

Posted at 7:26 PM, Dec 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-06 21:26:48-05

RIO VERDE, AZ — The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors will wait to address a serious water issue until a new supervisor is named.

However, officials recently announced plans to limit their supply to people and businesses within city limits because of the drought.

As ABC15 previously reported, Rio Verde homeowners are getting their water from the City of Scottsdale.

Maricopa County isn't in charge of providing water but they can approve or deny plans to create a water district.

“When I found this land out here, I thought I found a gold mine," said Ari Phillip, a Rio Verde resident.

Phillip said she didn't know that getting water from haulers and the City of Scottsdale was only supposed to be temporary.

"I feel like when I got my land if there was going to be some issue with water, I should have known then," she said.

Still, she's surprised the issue hasn't been addressed.

“To me, it shouldn’t be at the point where it’s at now...provisions needed to be done before now," she said.

Whether the district gets approved is up to the county. However, it won't be put on an agenda until next year.

When asked about the delay, a spokesperson said sent a statement that reads in part:

"…It is common practice at the county for the supervisor who represents the area in question to take the lead on these types of issues. It's important that folks in this area have representation, but ultimately, the county's role is only as a facilitator since the State of Arizona regulates water and the county is not a water provider or utility."

The board is currently looking to fill the seat left by former Supervisor Steve Chucri, who resigned in November.

Meanwhile, the idea of creating a district has created a lot of debate in the area.

"What I would love to see is for the county to come to the table, bring us all together and look at all the options that we have," said Ted Malone, a Rio Verde resident.

Malone said he doesn't support creating a district because of the powers it grants to the people in charge.

"The issue with the [water district] is it is a subdivision of the state and therefore has governmental powers," he said.

According to Malone, a "rural water group" would offer similar benefits but have more flexibility.

"The problem is we're at the 11th hour and there isn't time," said Karen Nabity who supports creating the district.

"It's crucial the county is communicating what their plans are and at this point, I don't know what their plan is and they haven't shared it with us," she added.

A letter sent to residents from Chucri said, "The county is aware of the urgency of this matter, especially in light of the recent communications from Scottsdale. It is important to note, as I leave office, all options are still on the table."

The county said a replacement for Chucri could be voted on in the near future.