UPDATES: The situation faced by rural residents has changed since the publication of this article. Click here for the latest articles on this topic. The article below remains as originally published.
A looming water crisis in New River and Desert Hills may soon be solved by the water utility EPCOR with an assist from Anthem. The company is seeking to buy a plot of vacant Anthem land that borders Desert Hills to install a water-hauling station that could serve more than a thousand homes that rely on trucked-in water.
On Dec. 31, the City of Phoenix plans to shut off the supply of water that companies haul from city hydrants to homes in New River and Desert Hills. City code forbids hydrant use for potable water, and the city has also made clear it is obliged to serve its residents, not those outside the city.
“We’re working with our local partners in Anthem to see how we can help these communities resolve their water crisis,” Troy Day, EPCOR vice president of operations, told North Phoenix News today. “Right now, we’re exploring locations that could support the right infrastructure for a hauled-water station that could be available for New River and Desert Hills residents.”
EPCOR indicated it is “interested in locating a water-hauling station off of Desert Hills Drive” and approached Anthem Community Council “because we own property in this area,” said council spokesperson Kristi Northcutt. The property is near Fire Station 145, just east of Meridian Drive in Anthem.
Meeting Next Week
ACC called a special board of directors meeting for Thursday, Oct. 12, in part to consider the request. “EPCOR is on a time crunch to investigate providing assistance to [New River and Desert Hills] for their water issue,” Northcutt told North Phoenix News today.
EPCOR can’t yet say if there will be a solution in place by the end of the year.
“It’s really dependent on a couple of things—identifying a location, putting the right infrastructure in place, and receiving approval from the Arizona Corporation Commission and Maricopa County,” Day said. “We’re working toward a solution as quickly as possible but, today, we can’t confirm whether that would be in place by Dec. 31.”
Officials have estimated between 1,000 and 1,500 homes in New River and Desert Hills, perhaps more, do not have working wells and rely on trucked water.
Meanwhile, the local water table has been declining for decades, as In&Out Magazine and North Phoenix News reported in early September, and some residents in New River and Desert Hills have seen their wells go dry.
Residents began organizing to face the problem after a Sept. 19 community meeting in which the water haulers called the situation “dire” and said they had yet to secure a source of water to replace the City of Phoenix supply. Community organizers see the need for a long-term solution to a problem that is likely to get worse as more homes and more wells draw from an ever-declining local aquifer.
North Phoenix News first reported EPCOR’s interest in being part of the solution on Sept. 27, in an article that introduced a grassroots group called “No Water―No Life” that formed as a result of the Sept. 19 meeting. The new group aims to raise awareness and seek solutions to the near- and long-term problems. County Supervisor Bill Gates has discussed the issue with EPCOR and other potential water providers, and Gov. Doug Ducey’s office has also been involved in seeking a solution.
Among long-term solutions being discussed by No Water―No Life and others: incorporating New River and/or other rural areas, and forming a water utility via a co-op or some other legal construct overseen by the Arizona Corporation Commission.
EPCOR provides water to the east side of Anthem via the Central Arizona Project in an agreement with Ak-Chin Indian Community (Anthem’s west side is in the City of Phoenix and receives city water). Day, the EPCOR vp, is expected to present the utility’s plans at the Anthem council meeting. Discuss This Article on Facebook >>>
Anthem Community Council Special Meeting
4 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 12
Anthem Civic Building
3701 W. Anthem Way