Stahl Hamilton Outlines Flaws in Failed Bailout for Rio Verde Foothills Water Users
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 10, 2023
PHOENIX – House Democrats today urged stakeholders to keep working on a negotiated solution to restore water service to a wealthy unincorporated community north of Scottsdale called Rio Verde Foothills. However, an amended bill that failed on the House floor Thursday fell far short of the mark because it would still allow wildcat subdivisions like Rio Verde Foothills to sprout and grow despite no long-term water supply and would force their county or neighboring cities to provide them water.
Following the failure of House Bill 2561 (sponsored by Republican Representative Alexander Kolodin), Democratic Representative Stephanie Stahl Hamilton of Tucson, outlined in detail the flaws in the bill and an extensive amendment dropped shortly before debate.
"Democrats have repeatedly tried to work with Republicans on closing the wildcat subdivision loophole that created this problem in the first place and we are either met with resistance or straight-up silence every time," Stahl Hamilton said.
"This bill gets progressively worse with every amendment. The sponsor didn’t describe the extent of his amendment, so let me highlight just a few provisions that speak for themselves:
First, it removes language that prohibited Maricopa County from issuing more building permits in Rio Verde Foothills until there is a permanent water solution. This was ostensibly the best reform in this bill and it has now been removed.
Second, it would then allow the amount of water provided to Rio Verde Foothills to be INCREASED if it doesn’t reduce the physical amount of water that Scottsdale gets. No one believes that Scottsdale will literally run out of water to provide its residents—but why are we not concerned about the cost to Scottsdale residents once we hit a Tier 3 shortage in a few months and Scottsdale loses a huge portion of its Colorado River allotment?
Rio Verde Foothills is not the first and sadly will not be the last community to be thoughtlessly erected in a remote area without adequate water. We must not set a dangerous precedent here atoning for the sins of greedy developers without any meaningful solution for the wildcat subdivision problem. We have Indigenous communities across this state who have never had reliable access to water. Where’s the bill to force municipalities to provide them water?"
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to reject the proposal that would be forced upon them with HB2561. Their statement can be found here.