Residents of Rio Verde, Arizona, held a conference on Tuesday night, calling for action by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and Arizona Elected officials to supply water after the city of Scottsdale, Arizona, cut off their water supply amid an ongoing drought.
This comes as temperatures in Maricopa County are rising and will reach triple digits in the summer.
Scottsdale had previously announced that the water would be cut off, and Maricopa County did “absolutely nothing” to find a solution, according to one resident. “I blame our county,” they said, calling the County’s actions “criminal.”
Robert Mitchell, an attorney for Miller Ranch in rural North Scottsdale, announced a lawsuit against Maricopa County for allegedly violating the law and failing residents of Rio Verde, Arizona.
The Gateway Pundit correspondent Jordan Conradson, with a background as an Arizona REALTOR®, did not believe it was possible to have a crisis like this due to Arizona’s Assured and Adequate Water Supply laws, which state, “Water providers or developers must demonstrate that the water supply is uninterruptible for the 100-year period, or that sufficient backup supplies exist for any anticipated shortages.”
However, Attorney Robert Mitchell of Tiffany & Bosco in Phoenix told Conradson that it is a “reasonable conclusion” that Maricopa County has been “working in concert” with land developers to violate water laws.
Questionably elected Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes delivered an opinion last month regarding the County’s authority to supply water to residents, stating, “Yes, a county board of supervisors has the authority to temporarily supply water to county residents to preserve public health and sanitation under A.R.S. § 11–251(17), (31). A county may do so through an intergovernmental agreement with a public agency with whom it shares a joint shared power, A.R.S. § 11–952, or by contracting with a private company, A.R.S. § 11–201(A)(3).”
Representative Alexander Kolodin’s HB2561, an emergency measure that requires Counties to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with a city or town to provide water to residents of the County, was voted on in the House Committee of the Whole one week ago on March 9, 2023, but it was shot down by Democrats.
According to Representative David Cook, special interests are preventing Maricopa County from coming to an agreement with Scottsdale. Cook told the committee that Scottsdale approved an agreement, however, Maricopa County voted to oppose this agreement because “the County is trying to tell the city of Scottsdale where they must purchase water from.” He continued, “that’s what it’s about. The city of Scottsdale was willing to help those people, but they want to do business with people they already do business with.”
The bill’s sponsor, Representative Alexander Kolodin, said he does not believe that the state legislature should be involved in local affairs, but due to state and federal funding of the Central Arizona Project, which provides water to Maricopa, Pinal, and Pima counties, he asked, “what could be a more worthy project or more worthy project than stopping 750 people from going through a hot Arizona summer without water with their children dying with their animals dying?”
Representative Austin Smith echoed similar sentiments and stated, “this is how representative government is supposed to work. When your citizens bring you an issue, you go right to work to fix it.”
However, despite residents’ urgent need for water, Democratic Representatives Mae Peshlakai and Stephanie Stahl Hamilton explained their “no” votes, claiming racial inequity played a role in this legislation which would provide water to thousands of Rio Verde residents.
Rio Verde Foothills resident Karen Nabity told The Gateway Pundit that “over 1,000 people are without a source of water for their homes.” Nabity told us that her family is “using rainwater to flush toilets.”
Nabity says that previously, she and her husband were paying about $120 for 3,000 gallons of water per month. Now, she says, it will cost roughly $330 for the same amount. Nabity also said that a ranch using 30,000 gallons per month will now be spending over $39,000 for a one-year water supply. “it’s insane,” says Nabity.
This is further leading to a decrease in property value for residents.
Residents of the Rio Verde Foothills shared their concerns and experiences with no water on Tuesday night at the Rural Metro Fire Department in Rio Verde, Arizona.
The full conference is split into three videos. Robert Mitchell announces Miller Ranch’s lawsuit against Maricopa County in video number 3.
From MAAP Real Talk Show’s George Nemeh on Rumble:
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In the first video, Donna Rice said, “I feel like the Board of Supervisors has really failed our community,” and suggested that residents should appeal their property tax valuation for 2024. “Mine went up 20.5%, and I have no water,” said Donna Rice. “We need water, and we need it now.”
Another resident of the community said that he is “pissed off” and called for Maricopa County to abandon special interests and come to an agreement with Scottsdale.
John Hornewer, a water hauler who accused the County of “criminal negligence,” said that it will not be possible to haul the current demand of water with rising gas prices in the summer and suggested that residents should grab their pitchforks and give them “a little persuasion.” The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors “did absolutely nothing to secure a solution,” said Hornewer.” He continued, “come hot season, come summertime, we’re not going to make it. This is not a joke.”
Attorney Robert Mitchell announced the lawsuit on behalf of Miller Ranch, alleging a “concerted effort” between the corrupt Maricopa County officials and land developers in Arizona.
Mitchell: Our firm was asked by Miller ranch to determine whether there’s a duty under constitutional law or the state law that would compel a government authority such as Maricopa County to assure adequate water supply for communities, especially like this one for which they have rubber-stamped so many building permits over a number of years. And we believe for a number of reasons the answer is yes. It should surprise nobody here tonight that the right to water is considered a basic human right. The United States government and the Arizona government and courts have long recognized the importance of securing water supply to protect the people’s livelihood. United States Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974, and Arizona passed the groundwater management act in 1980 to ensure that people will have clean drinking water for generations to come. Around the country, courts that have dealt with water issues have found that issues regarding water rights are of great public importance and a basic necessity of life. Today, the Rio Verde foothills community is left with virtually no water, despite the well-known requirements under Arizona law, promulgated by our legislature that developers of property must ensure that there be sufficient water for the residents for at least 100 years. That requirement is found in ARS section 45-576 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, which requires that a person who proposes to offer subdivided lands for sale or lease in the state of Arizona obtain a Certificate of assured water supply from the county where the property is located to be subdivided that assures that water is sufficient to supply that property. And by statute, that requirement requires supplying water for a period of 100 years.
Now, in the Rio Verde foothills community, developers have gotten around this requirement through a supposed loophole called the Wildcat Subdivision, where developers subdivide five or less lots. They do this because, by way of statutory requirement in Arizona, subdivisions are considered lands that are divided into six or more parcels or lots. Thus by subdividing land into five or fewer parcels, the so-called Wildcat developers have been able to skirt the requirements that otherwise would require an assurance of a water supply, an adequate water supply of 100 years. Now, the catch to the analysis is that under ARS 32-2181D, it is unlawful for parties to act in concert to subdivide land to avoid laws pertaining to subdivisions, and that’s the crux of our concern about the County’s action. With the Rio Verde foothills the Wildcat subdivisions have avoided requirements to determine that at least 100 years of water supply exist and it’s available the result is obvious. It’s a patchwork of some; I understand 2000 Homes in the community, many of which have no independent supply of water. And we believe in our analysis that the blame lies at the foot of the county. And why do I say that? Well, one reason besides the obvious is that in July of 2005, Maricopa County adopted the Rio Verde Foothills area plan that was created through the cooperative efforts of various public and private stakeholders including the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, the Planning and Zoning Commission and others. In this comprehensive plan, which is comprised of some 200 pages, Maricopa County discussed among other things, its plan to develop the Rio Verde Foothills area into where it stands today. And the existence and growing use of Wildcat subdivisions was explicitly contemplated by the county and discussed in the area plan. And of course, issues regarding water availability were well known even in 2005 when the area plan was first developed. The area plan identified issues regarding water resources, noting that many residents haul water, and the need for an alternative water supply in the future was imperative. Yet, here you are 18 years later, and there’s no long-term solution. Nevertheless in the plan in the plan for action Maricopa County intended to continue encouraging development of Rio Verde Foothills while noting that building permits for subdivisions should be disapproved due to lack of water. So, in effect, what the county did in its area plan was to discourage developers from creating subdivisions due to the lack of water, while tacitly encouraging or turning their back on the so-called Wildcat developers who developed the lodge without providing homeowners the necessary required assurances that were required by law. So, in our view, this is not a case where solely private developers have acted in concert to avoid laws pertaining to subdivisions. Instead, it’s a concerted effort specifically involving Maricopa County, which has deprived these residents of water. And this concerted effort violates Arizona law, particularly with respect to the subdivision laws, which say that you cannot act in concert in a way to evade the subdivision laws.
Now, we also believe that the violation here and the dereliction of duty by the county also violates the equal protection clause of the US Constitution and the Arizona Constitution. For example, Article Two section 13 of the Arizona state constitution provides no law shall be enacted granting to any citizen, class of citizens, or a corporation, other than the municipal privileges or immunities which upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens or corporations. Here, Arizona’s requirement that developers of subdivisions obtain a Certificate of assured water supply is neutral on its face. However, Maricopa County’s enforcement of that statute has been anything but equal. For example, first of all, it’s rewarded these Wildcat developers, but more importantly, residents of Rio Verde have been treated differently and disadvantaged compared to other residents of the state who have adequate water supply. So we believe as a direct result of Maricopa County’s failure to enforce the Arizona Water laws, particularly those laws relating to subdivisions, the Rio Verde residents have not been afforded equal protection under the law and therefore not provided access to adequate water supply. So, in short, our preliminary evaluation of the situation suggests that Maricopa County’s inaction to address this current crisis violates the Constitution and state law.
We would love and I’d say we my client, which is Miller ranch, and I would love there to be a community-oriented solution to the current problem where the county officials and other local leaders get together and solve the problem. For those of us who’ve been following this over the last year, we have not seen that to be the case. We’ve seen our elected officials act like politicians instead of like community leaders, and we would love for them to get together and effect a solution. But like many of you, were discouraged and frankly, surprised by the actions, particularly in the County recently to the city of Scottsdale proposal, and we think that maybe some extra nudging or kicking, as Mr. Horner suggested earlier tonight might be in order. So, if we can’t persuade the county to sit down with the city of Scottsdale, and effect, an interim short-term solution, and that’s what we’re here to talk about tonight, the short-term solution, so I’ll stick to that. If we can’t do that, then there are other avenues, and one of the avenues Miller Ranch is interested in pursuing is litigation against the county for these violations that I’ve suggested.
One resident, Larry Wolf, objected to the ideas presented throughout the meeting and defended Maricopa County while blaming the city of Scottsdale for the issues in Rio Verde. However, according to State Legislators and several citizens in Rio Verde, Maricopa County is holding the solutions back over a disagreement on the company providing the water.
Mitchell told The Gateway Pundit, “Scottsdale has a duty to its own citizens to ensure they have adequate water.” Still, “they are trying to help people” in Rio Verde, which is outside their jurisdiction.
The group will meet again next Tuesday night at the Rural Metro Fire Department at 16309 E Rio Verde Dr.