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AG: County can provide water to Rio Verde Foothills residents

Attorney General Kris Mayes said the county has the authority to enter into a deal that would bring water to Rio Verde Foothills. Scottsdale has now proposed a plan.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes said Maricopa County has the legal authority to temporarily provide water to residents in Rio Verde Foothills.

The City of Scottsdale cut off Rio Verde Foothills residents from its municipal water supply last month in an effort to conserve resources. 

Because the community is located in an unincorporated area, Scottsdale officials have argued that the city's not responsible for providing water service. 

The community has not yet found a permanent water source to replace Scottsdale's supply and some have resorted to hauling water from Apache Junction. 

On Thursday, the City of Scottsdale announced it would consider a deal with Maricopa County that would re-open a supply of water to Rio Verde Foothills. 

The city said this agreement is contingent on the city obtaining additional water resources from a third party that Scottsdale would treat and make available for delivery by Maricopa County.

A draft of Scottsdale's proposed agreement can be found here.

The city's announcement comes shortly after the state's top prosecutor found that Maricopa County could intervene to help RVF residents. 

State Rep. David Cook, R-District 7, recently asked Attorney General Mayes to provide an opinion on whether the county could help provide relief to the community.

Cook specifically wanted to know whether counties could enter into short-term agreements with a private company or government entity to provide emergency relief to a community like the Foothills. 

In a legal opinion released Tuesday, Mayes said Arizona law permits counties to enter into these types of agreements in order to preserve the public health of local residents.

"When county residents lose access to their previous water source, and there will be a delay before regular service can resume, counties have the power to preserve public health and sanitation by contracting with a utility or another government entity to provide water on an emergency basis," the attorney general wrote.

Cook said the AG's opinion will hopefully help offer a solution to resolving the Rio Verde Foothills's water crisis.

“I believe this could be immensely helpful in the effort to provide relief for residents who continue to struggle without a reliable point of access to water for their homes and families," the lawmaker said in a statement. 

Last year, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted against allowing the community to tax themselves to pay for water.

EPCOR, a utility company, has proposed bringing water to Rio Verde Foothills but that project could take up to two years to complete. 


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