Hobbs vetoes proposal to resume Scottsdale water services to Rio Verde 

Rio Verde, Hobbs, Griffin, veto, Scottsdale

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Hobbs vetoes proposal to resume Scottsdale water services to Rio Verde 

About 750 households in an unincorporated community near Scottsdale will continue a months-long challenge of not having water after Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed a bill to temporarily resolve the issue.  

Residents in Rio Verde Foothills have been without water since January when Scottsdale cut off residents’ access to the city’s water supply, an action the city has repeatedly warned Rio Verde residents would happen. 

After months of Legislative work to craft a bill to help Rio Verde residents, Republicans in the Legislature passed House Bill 2441 on May 15, which would require Scottsdale to resume water service until a more permanent solution is reached. 

Hobbs vetoed that measure on Monday, calling it a “piecemeal, short-term” proposal that she criticized for passing without an emergency clause to take immediate effect.  

“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,” Hobbs wrote in her veto letter of the bill.  

Rio Verde, Senate, House
Rep. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, was among the last of bills that House members considered during a marathon floor session where lawmakers voted on close to 100 bills. Both the House and Senate will not reconvene until June 12 as legislators continue to negotiate other key measures including the continuation of a Maricopa County transportation sales tax.  

Griffin’s bill was not the only Rio Verde bill legislators considered. Another proposal from Rep. Alexander Kolodin, R-Scottsdale, received greater bipartisan support and passed the House May 10 with an emergency clause and more than two-thirds of the chamber voting “aye.” Only five Democrats in the House voted “aye” for Griffin’s bill.  

Kolodin’s solution would require Scottsdale to enter an intergovernmental agreement with Maricopa County, making the county responsible for providing water to Rio Verde. Hobbs indicated she prefers Kolodin’s bill and urged the Legislature to get the bill to her before June 12.  

But Republicans prefer Griffin’s bill – Kolodin included. He said he originally tried to implement Griffin’s proposal but was unable to get Democrat votes needed to pass with an emergency clause. The Senate didn’t schedule Kolodin’s bill for a vote despite a suggestion from Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, to pass both bills and guarantee Rio Verde residents get a solution.  

Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said after the Senate passed Griffin’s bill that he hoped the Senate would consider Kolodin’s bill because of the party line split on Griffin’s bill. Kavanagh represents Rio Verde and Scottsdale, along with Kolodin and Rep. Joseph Chaplik, R-Scottsdale. 

Unless the Senate decides to gavel in before June 12, Rio Verde residents must wait at least until then for another attempt at a legislative remedy. That’s too long to wait with wildfire season approaching, said Rio Verde resident Meredith DeAngelis. 

“I thought she would’ve had something else up her sleeve that would get us immediate water,” DeAngelis said of Hobbs’ veto. “I felt like 2441 was going to be the fastest and cleanest.” 

During the House’s vote of Griffin’s bill, Cook said Hobbs could declare an emergency and allow water to be delivered through the area via executive action. Kolodin already attempted for the executive intervention on the issue earlier in the session but was denied, resulting in him seeking to solve the issue through legislation.  

EPCOR, a Canadian utility provider, has a proposed permanent fix to deliver water to Rio Verde using Scottsdale’s infrastructure. That plan is being considered by the state corporation commission. 

DeAngelis also said she and other Rio Verde residents were concerned about Kolodin’s bill and the length of time it would take to create an intergovernmental agreement. More than 500 residents from Rio Verde supported Griffin’s bill.  

Rio Verde residents without wells have relied on others for water and many have cut back on water usage, but DeAngelis said the area will have to rely on water hauling trucks making a trip to Apache Junction to respond to a wildfire.  

The City of Scottsdale asked the governor to veto the bill. City officials stated in a May 16 letter sent to Hobbs that Griffin’s bill would force the city to violate its state required drought management plan. The city also shared concerns among Democrats and Hobbs that the bill didn’t address “wildcat subdivisions” created by lot-splitting.  

“Measures like this only assist in promoting such activities; thus, subverting statewide drought management efforts and encouraging poor water policy,” Scottsdale’s letter states.