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Arizona governor vetoes Rio Verde Foothills water legislation

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Cole Lauterbach

(The Center Square) – Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs has vetoed legislation that would have required Scottsdale to provide water for a nearby town that's been dry since 2022. 

Hobbs vetoed House Bill 2441  Monday. Had she signed it, the new law would have required Scottsdale to sell residents of the nearby town of Rio Verde Foothills water at a set rate. Hobbs said the Legislature sent her the wrong bill. 

"This bill fails to provide an immediate solution, as it passed without an emergency clause on the eve of a month-long adjournment which will only cause continued delay. Instead, I call upon you to take action and send HB 2561 to my desk – a bipartisan solution that was voted out of the House with supermajority support, an emergency clause for immediate effect, and language addressing the long-term issue of wildcat development," Hobbs said. 

"Wildcat development" is a term for unincorporated communities in originally rural areas. Residents of those areas prefer the term "lot-split" communities. What the communities lack in municipal services, such as municipally-managed roads, sewage and water lines, they benefit from the absence of often cumbersome city codes and higher tax bills.

In Rio Verde Foothills, people have to find other water sources.

They have used wells, private utilities and hauled water, the latter of which often came from Scottsdale. But, Scottsdale's drought management plan meant an end to water service for residents outside of the city limits starting in December 2022.

HB 2441 would have forced Scottsdale to offer residents water at a rate the city said was far below market water prices, thus asked for Hobbs' veto.

"The City of Scottsdale understands the needs of RVF residents to obtain safe and affordable water and is ready and willing to be a participant of a sensible solution while protecting Scottsdale citizens and resources," the letter read.

A group of Rio Verde Foothills residents proposed creating a Domestic Water Improvement District last year. It would have levied taxes and fees on Rio Verde Foothills residents who signed up for water service. Maricopa County officials rejected that plan.