Breaking News
More () »

'I'm afraid our aquifers would dry up': Why well owners are worried about Rio Verde getting new standpipe

Some well owners in Rio Verde Foothills are concerned their water levels will drop if a new filling station is built.

RIO VERDE, Ariz. — Michael Miola uses 100,000 gallons of water every month. And no amount of conserving, recycling or reusing water can help him. 

Miola owns Silver Spurs Equine. It's 60 acres and 200 horses. He breeds horses for clients worldwide. 

Each horse drinks about 18 gallons of water per day. That's where the astronomical water use comes from. And it's also why he can't cut back. 

Silver Spurs runs off of two wells, sunk down about 800 feet. The water level is only about a hundred feet above that, which means he doesn't have much wiggle room. And if the well pumps break...

"We have no backup," Miola said. "It would just be impossible."

Rio Verde Foothills was cut off of Scottsdale city water on New Year's Day. The City of Scottsdale has said it needs to conserve its water for its residents, and Rio Verde Foothills is outside the city limits. 

About 500 homes rely on water hauled to them from standpipes. Now those trucks travel hours to bring back far less water. 

There is a plan making its way through the Arizona Corporation Commission that would let EPCOR, a Canadian water utility, build a new standpipe that runs off a well sunk into the ground. 

It would take three years and would supply the 48 million gallons of water that Rio Verde Foothills was getting from Scottsdale. 

But for Miola, there's a drawback. It would be a massive straw stuck in the groundwater that his horses drink. 

"If 48 million gallons of water are taken out of that standpipe," Miola said, "I'm afraid our aquifers would dry up."

The Corporation Commission is considering the EPCOR plan, but it will be months before they make a decision. It's currently the only plan up for consideration after multiple others failed. 


Water levels are dwindling across the Southwest as the megadrought continues. Here's how Arizona and local communities are being affected. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out