Residents of the Rio Verde Foothills in Arizona have been frantically hoarding water since the start of the year after nearby Scottsdale cut off their water supply, citing an extreme drought.
In an announcement at the end of last year, the Scottsdale Office of Communication said that residents of Maricopa County had been warned multiple times that the water supply was set to be turned off as it needed to focus on providing water to its own residents.
“As Scottsdale prioritizes water for its residents under the city’s Drought Management Plan, it will cease allowing city water to be purchased and hauled to Maricopa County residents in the Rio Verde Foothills area on Jan. 1,” the announcement read. “Maricopa County officials and county residents living in the Rio Verde Foothills area were informed of this eventuality in 2015/16, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022.”
The Rio Verde Foothills is home to around 1,000 residents, according to reports. The community had previously received its water supply from Scottsdale as it does not own a reservoir of its own.
The decision to stop the supply has meant residents of the roughly 500 to 700 homes in the area are now being forced to purchase water from other suppliers, often at much higher prices, The New York Times reported.
Residents Forced to Preserve Water
According to local reports, residents are having to fork out up to $330 for 3,000 gallons of water.
In an effort to preserve water, residents have turned to flushing their toilets with rainwater, washing laundry at neighbors’ homes, and skipping showers, according to the publication. They’ve also begun eating off paper plates to save having to use water to wash dishes.
Meanwhile, residents are faced with the possibility that the value of their homes may now sink.
Residents Bruce Smith and his wife Patty told Scottsdale.org that they purchased an acre in the Rio Verde Foothills community around five years ago and built a home on it around three years later.
The couple claimed that they were never informed about the “water issue” stating, “Even when you get your building permit, they don’t.”
Smith and his wife said they are now forced to haul water to their home and fear what the situation will do to the value of their property, adding, “Without water, your property is basically worthless.”
According to Scottsdale.org, some Rio Verde Foothills residents turned up at the City Hall ahead of a council meeting on Jan. 10 to protest the cut-off and have since filed an injunction request against the move.
The request cites ARS Section 9-516 C, which states that “a city or town acquiring the facilities of a public service corporation rendering utility service without the boundaries of such city or town, or which renders utility service without its boundaries, shall not discontinue such service, once established, as long as such city or town owns or controls such utility.”
‘Water Is Not a Compassion Game’
Meanwhile, private utility company EPCOR reportedly offered to provide water into the system if Scottsdale would treat it and allow it to be distributed through its standpipe until a long-term solution could be found.
However, David Ortega, the mayor of Scottsdale, reportedly rejected the offer, writing in a statement on Dec. 9: “There is no Santa Claus. The mega-drought tells us all – water is not a compassion game.”
The Epoch Times has contacted Ortega’s office for comment.
Despite stormy weather and snow hitting California in recent weeks, a 20-year drought has led to Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States, which provides water to Arizona, California, and Nevada, all but drying out, while levels in Lake Powell have been called dangerously low.
Meanwhile, restrictions have been put in place for water usage along the Colorado River, upon which 40 million are dependent for water.
Sarah Porter, the director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University, told The New York Times that the events in Rio Verde should serve as a cautionary tale for home buyers in other unincorporated areas in Arizona that depend on water from larger nearby cities.
“We can’t just protect every single person who buys a parcel and builds a home. There isn’t enough money or water,” Porter said.