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Judge to Arizona community: Water not required to flow from Scottsdale

Water from the Colorado River diverted through the Central Arizona Project fills an irrigation canal on Aug. 18, 2022, in Maricopa, Ariz. A Maricopa County judge in Arizona denied residents emergency relief over their Scottsdale, Ariz., water source that has been cut off since Jan. 1 because of drought conditions.

Water from the Colorado River diverted through the Central Arizona Project fills an irrigation canal on Aug. 18, 2022, in Maricopa, Ariz. A Maricopa County judge in Arizona denied residents emergency relief over their Scottsdale, Ariz., water source that has been cut off since Jan. 1 because of drought conditions. (Matt York, Associated Press)


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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A Maricopa County judge in Arizona denied residents emergency relief over their Scottsdale water source that has been cut off since Jan. 1 because of drought conditions and despite repeated city warnings to find an alternative water source.

The action for an emergency stay was brought by some residents of the nearby unincorporated community of Rio Verde Foothills who saw their deliveries of water run dry at the beginning of the year due to action by the city of Scottsdale, whose leaders said they repeatedly warned the community that continued deliveries were unsustainable due to drought.

What happened: Several hundred residents of the 1,000-member community have been affected by the discontinued water deliveries.

In December, the city warned residents of the pending action because Arizona's own water supply from the Colorado River had been shaved by 21% due to the basinwide drought.

"This means the water haulers Rio Verde has relied upon must find another source of water to haul. They have found other sources of water and are still offering to haul water to serve the homes in Rio Verde," a city memo said.

The cutoff only affects those getting water delivered by tankers, not households that rely on wells. The tanker deliveries mean truckers are going farther to find water, which is driving up prices — sometimes triple — leading residents to resort to paper plates, fewer showers and filling toilets with rainwater.

The lawsuit: In the legal filing, affected residents claimed that Scottsdale's provision for water was considered a utility service, according to AZFamily, a media outlet. But the judge said residents failed to prove irreparable harm, adding that the Rio Verde Foothills community has yet to show that it cannot access water at all. Additional arguments against Scottsdale still need to be discussed as the lawsuit continues, the court added.

A lawmaker from Arizona met recently with the affected residents and is hopeful a solution can be reached, according to KTAR News.

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Amy Joi O'Donoghue
Amy Joi O’Donoghue is a reporter for the Utah InDepth team at the Deseret News with decades of expertise in land and environmental issues.

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