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The Water Wars Come to the Suburbs

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The best gossip you can hear in Rio Verde Foothills, Arizona is about water. The story was immediately directed to the well when several residents stopped by Karen Naviti’s vast, high-ceilinged house last month.

“The neighbors of the two plots to the east of me put them in a dry hole of just 960 feet,” said John Hornewer.

Two women exchanged terrifying facial expressions. “How much did they put up with the cost?” Asked Lee Harris.

“I was so sick that I didn’t even ask,” Hornewer said. “I’m going to say I’m running out of $ 40,000 at the Claps table.”

“The same can be said for many places across the street,” said Cindy Getz. “900 feet, no water, and now the man begins building.. “

When the Southwest enters the 20th year of Megadrought and the Colorado River sinks to surprisingly low levels, it’s a 30-mile drive from Scottsdale, but a large luxury community that realtors claim to be North Scottsdale. Rio Verde realized that he was at the forefront of the water war. Wells for some homeowners are running out, but others who deliver water are said to have recently been cut off on January 1st. “It will turn into a Hunger Games,” Harris said badly. “It’s like scrambling the water in the toilet every month.” The battle over how best to deal with this problem is to have neighbors confront each other. “”Water politics It’s bad politics. ” EPCOR, The largest private water operator in the southwest told me. “Did you know that you say’whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting’? That’s very true in Arizona.”

Water problems in the southwest are at stake. “Slow-motion train accidents have been accelerating for 20 years and the moment of calculation is approaching,” John Entzminger, general manager of the Southern Nevada Waterworks Bureau, told Congress earlier this year. Arizona, along with parts of Mexico, is one of seven states that pump water from. Colorado River, This accounts for about one-third of the state’s supply. (In the 1970s, Arizona built a large water system to drain river water into the central and southern parts of the state, which overburdens the limited supply of groundwater. However, by agreement, water in Arizona was created at a time of higher flow than it is today. In recent years, states that depend on its supply have to deal with shortages, and experts predict that the situation will only get worse.

Foothills is a 20 square mile community of approximately 2,000 homes and horse farms in Rio Verde. Being unincorporated, homeowners do not pay city taxes or receive city services such as water services. Many homeowners see this as a plus. When I asked the people in Nabity’s house why they chose to live where they lived, some enthusiastically and unanimously answered “NO HOA!”. Nabity’s home is on the outskirts of a dirt road surrounded by many acres of brushland, and is regularly visited by Michibasiri, hawks, and sometimes the Great Horned Owl. “Sometimes I would have an entire row of little baby quails,” she said. “They look like small cotton balls.”

Recently, the downside has become more noticeable. “It has kept me at night.” EPCORLoquvam said. “Actually, multiple nights. Do these people really understand what they were doing when they bought these homes?”

Most Foothills residents draw water from wells, but residents rely on water tanks because hundreds of homes sit on land without reliable water access. When Cindy Goetz moved from Illinois to Arizona in 2012, she had never heard of the water being pumped up. “But I did some research on that. As you know, is it much better, or is the water carried better? And my decision is carried The water was better, “she told me. “Wells can be polluted and depleted. Would you like to pay a little extra to get someone to bring you from the city? You can already drink. I asked. [my real-estate agent] And he said it was done a lot in Arizona. And it wasn’t like a mansion in the middle of any place. There were streets, power lines, telephone lines, etc. I thought it was okay. “By the way, it may stop” was not displayed. “

In 2018, Phoenix stopped selling water to carriers servicing New River, an unincorporated community in the northern part of the city, concerned about its supply. Nabity was worried that Scottsdale would make a similar decision and cut off supply to Rio Verde Foothills. If that happens, water carriers can look for other sources of water, but trucking water from a distance can be quite costly. And what if other communities are reluctant to sell their scarce water to outsiders? Realtor Navity worried that water insecurity might someday prevent her from selling her home. But when she and others began to raise issues, some of her neighbors accused her of fear mongering. They claimed that Scottsdale promised to be her good neighbor. The hills were not meant to be cut off.

Then, in August last year, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced the first official water scarcity declaration for the Colorado River. A few months later, Scottsdale announced that it had become the first city in Arizona and entered the first phase of its drought management program. (Several other cities have since followed.) The city has asked Scottsdale residents to reduce water consumption by 5%. He also notified water carriers that after 2023, Scottsdale water could no longer be purchased and delivered outside the city limits. This includes the hills of Rio Verde.

Homeowners who didn’t have a well suddenly became uncertain whether they could wash dishes and toilets. Some water carriers have reassured their customers that they can find water for them, at least for now. Hornewer, who runs a water carrier, told me that not all carriers are cautious about the legality of water sources. “For them, it’s just like the Archetypal Old West,” he said. “If the water is there, grab it. If you want to get it illegally from Phoenix, you can certainly do it. But that’s a short-term fix.”

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