A saguaro cactus-lined road where new homes are being built in Rio Verde Foothills, Arizona, on Jan. 7, 2023.
The Washington Post | Getty Images
An Arizona suburb has filed a lawsuit against the city of Scottsdale after the city cut off the community from its municipal water supply amid extreme drought and falling water levels in the Colorado River.
In the lawsuit, filed Thursday in Maricopa County Superior Court, residents of the unincorporated community of Rio Verde Foothills are seeking an injunction against Scottsdale to force the city to resume water supplies.
The dispute comes after the federal government announced unprecedented water cuts in Arizona last year due to water shortages along the Colorado River. The Biden administration has urged seven states to reduce water use by 2 to 4 million acre-feet, to one-third of the river’s average flow, as drought in the Colorado River basin worsens.
Three-quarters of the water from the country’s largest reservoirs has been lost due to the decline of the river. Last week, Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs unveiled a report showing that the desert west of Phoenix does not have enough groundwater resources to continue home-building plans in the area.
Scottsdale warned Rio Verde Foothills more than a year ago that the city’s water supply would be cut off as it faced forecasts of a historic drought and dwindling reservoir levels in the western US. Scottsdale said it should focus on water conservation for its own residents and not continue to sell water to the 500 or so homes in the Rio Verde foothills.
Earlier this month, hundreds of homes outside of Scottsdale lost access to water from the city, leaving residents without a reliable source of water.
Residents of Rio Verde Foothills said Scottsdale is able to accept delivery of water from EPCOR, a water utility, and treat the domestic water at EPCOR’s expense so that residents have water for the 24 to 36 month period that it company must receive the necessary approval for this, according to the lawsuit.
However, Scottsdale has said it would not partner with outside companies to provide water to Rio Verde Foothills residents, arguing that it is not required by law to continue providing water to Rio Verde Foothills as the city is out of business. Scottsdale city limits.
Scottsdale said in a statement released Monday that Rio Verde Foothills is a separate community governed by Maricopa County and the city’s action will not prevent Rio Verde Foothills residents from purchasing water from other sources.
“Scottsdale has been warning and advising that it has not been responsible for Rio Verde for years, especially given the requirements of the city-imposed drought plan,” the statement said. “The city remains firmly in that position and is confident that it is on the right side of the law.”