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'It's our livelihood': Rio Verde residents protest Scottsdale's decision to stop water supply

On January 1, the city officially stopped transporting water to the community, which means residents are now counting the days until their taps run dry.

RIO VERDE, Ariz. — Time is running out for those who live in the Rio Verde Foothills. 

On January 1, the city of Scottsdale officially stopped transporting water to the community, which means residents are now counting down the days until their taps run dry. 

On Tuesday, they took their fight to the city's first council meeting of 2023. Mayor David Ortega welcomed new and returning councilmembers to City Hall as family, friends, and other city officials cheered on. 

Outside though, celebrations turned to frustration as a crowd gathered, hopeful for change. "I'm really pissed off," said Jessica Mehlman. "It's just human decency."

Mehlman said they have a 5,000-gallon tank, which usually takes about 4-6 weeks to go through. Like most in her neighborhood, she made sure it was filled on December 28. But with so much uncertainty about when that tank empties, she has also set up barrels to collect rainwater. That water is now used to soak dishes, water plants, etc. She said she's also timing her showers now to make sure they're short. And she's not alone.

"It's our livelihood. I work from home," said Kim Steadman.

"We have about five to seven days of water left," Wendy Walker added.

The group of men, women, and children were outside City Hall protesting Scottsdale's decision to turn off the taps to Rio Verde Foothills residents. 

That decision came two years ago when it was announced they wouldn't be able to use Scottsdale's water, that the city wanted to conserve it for city residents. On January first, the city stopped transporting water to the community outside its city limits. 

This means hundreds of homes and thousands of people are now counting down the days until their water runs out.

"Imagine if you're camping in your own home," said Walker.

"It's dire," said Cody Reim. "We need water now, we can't wait a week, and we can't wait a day. This shouldn't have happened; we shouldn't be ten days without water."

Reim organized the protest. He said as a family of six, he couldn't stand around and wait. He wanted to act.

"My community is beautiful; it's the most special place in Arizona," he said. "And if it doesn't have water, almost a thousand homes, it's going to die. I just hope our neighbors in Scottsdale see this and want to help."

Reim's family owns a business in Scottsdale. He also said many of the Rio Verde Foothills residents shop, send their children to school and do business within city limits there. He just hopes their community will be saved.

"I hope hearts can be changed," he said. "I believe this is a righteous cause."

What started outside soon flowed inside City Hall. People lined the room holding their signs; some were given the opportunity to speak.

"It's not too late to do the right thing," said one concerned citizen.

"Within a matter of days, our water tanks will be dry," said Reim to the council members. "This is avoidable, completely avoidable."

With the countdown on before their water runs out, there's fear about what's next. Fear they'll be left out to dry.

"We just want them to work with us," said Kim Steadman.

"I just cannot believe a group of people would look at their neighbors and say we'll slowly kill off your community," said Mehlman.

12News tried to get a comment from Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega on the matter but was told he was unavailable.

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