An entire community in Arizona is set to lose its water supply in a troubling development that could precede even more water insecurity in the desert state.
Rio Verde Foothills is an unincorporated community bordering the larger city of Scottsdale.
The City of Scottsdale is set to end a longstanding arrangement in which it trucked in water to 500 residents of the community who don’t have access to their own wells, according to NBC News.
Scottsdale decided to end the water shipments last year as part of its own drought contingency plan, according to Axios.
As a result of the decision, the residents without wells are slated to lose their direct water supply on New Year’s Day 2023.
Arizona law requires property parcels in standard municipal subdivisions to have a water supply that will last for 100 years.
However, when land in a zoned subdivision is divided into less than six parcels, this requirement doesn’t apply; a zoning loophole that has proved problematic for the residents of Rio Verde Foothills, according to KPNX-TV.
One Canadian water company, Epcor Utilities, has filed an application with the Arizona Corporation Commission to supply the unincorporated community with water through the construction of a new standpipe, according to NBC.
Developing that infrastructure could take years — time in which hundreds of Rio Verde residents will be left with no option but to pay for their own personalized water delivery or make an arrangement with a neighbor who has a functioning well.
However, the problem of water security in Arizona and the Southwest isn’t unique to Rio Verde Foothills.
Residents of many small communities in the state are already facing the economic toll of water insecurity, with foreign agricultural businesses worsening what is already a dire situation.
Scottsdale’s drought contingency plan came into effect as a response to the federal Bureau of Reclamation’s declaration of a “Tier 1” water shortage affecting the Colorado River in 2021, according to NBC.
The river is the single greatest water source of the American Southwest, with a series of canals providing water to residents of Arizona, Nevada and California.
Policymakers in California have been hesitant to embrace the technology of desalination, even as water-parched communities call for a solution that looks beyond conserving the Colorado River’s finite water supply.
One Rio Verde resident was blunt about the situation’s impact on area residents.
“It’s going to be really ugly and terrible for our homeowners and landowners,” Karen Nabity said, according to NBC.
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