Partnering with the Community for Short and
Long Term Water Solutions
Nine individuals, most of whom had never previously met, made each other's acquaintance outside the Anthem Civic Center on September 19, 2017. This impromptu meeting followed the community meeting focusing on area water concerns hosted by the New River/Desert Hills Community Association (NRDHCA).
The initial impetus for our group's creation was the revelation that the City of Phoenix had notified area water haulers they would no longer be allowed access to Phoenix water hydrants effective January 1, 2018. This action would potentially leave New River/Desert Hills residents who relied on hauled water, without a reasonably affordable water source. We all knew we were going to need to become involved to find a solution to this pressing problem as it wasn't going to go away on its own.
Our grassroots group first met in a resident's home, along with an additional 32 concerned residents of New River, Desert Hills and West Cave Creek. We proceeded to roll up our sleeves and got to work. Our objectives were threefold:
achieving a date extension from the City of Phoenix;
research and development of long-term options for creating a sustainable water source that would support our community now and into the future.
This initial group has now transformed into a membership that meets on a consistent basis working together to seek solutions to our water needs. We are pleased to report that our website has almost 400 subscribers, our dedicated Facebook page has over 600 members, and we also post to our own Twitter account.
Additionally, we created a not-for-profit Limited Liability Company (LLC) which provides financial structure and accountability to our efforts and will allow us to promote community service projects in New River and Desert Hills for years to come. None of the individuals who have volunteered their time, talent, and yes, personal treasure, to the organization have been elected, appointed or assigned. They are all volunteers – people who care about their neighbors and the future of our community.
We held our first community meeting October 8, 2017, two weeks to the day from our first meeting, at Desert View Bible Church. Over 400 concerned residents attended. A panel of speakers informed attendees about the issues and what to expect on January 1, 2018 if action wasn't taken to prevent it. Water haulers spoke about their realities, which included the need to secure available sources of water from municipalities willing to provide it. The two choices were both much farther away (Peoria and Scottsdale) which engendered a much greater cost. Then, attendees were given the opportunity to ask the panel questions.
After the excitement of this huge community event was behind us, we continued working to request a date extension from Phoenix, along with researching the best option that would secure water for our community indefinitely.
At Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates' September 19th monthly meeting, the community learned that Supervisor Gates and Alan Muller of the NRDHCA, had met with Troy Day of the EPCOR Corporation (Anthem's water utility). The meeting occurred to inquire if EPCOR would be willing to investigate a solution to the water crisis affecting New River and Desert Hills.
After overcoming many hurdles, EPCOR (with the decision by the Anthem Community Council's Board of Directors to lease land to them), is building a new standpipe water fill station on Desert Hills Drive, slated to become operational by April 30, 2018. This date coincides with the extended date for water hydrant shut-off afforded to our water haulers by the City of Phoenix and Councilwoman Thelda Williams. We are extremely grateful to everyone involved.
Everyone who supported this effort by signing petitions, corresponding with their elected representatives, and attending meetings deserves the thanks of our community. Your involvement helped spark the interest of the news media which brought awareness of our dire situation to local, county and state officials. This combined unrelenting exposure was instrumental in turning the tide towards a positive outcome.
We also want to acknowledge and thank Alan Muller, Ed Taylor, and Neil Rifenbark of the NRDHCA for their invaluable assistance, guidance, and other anonymous persons who worked behind the scenes to work with officials and gain support for our community.
The goals of the volunteer team and New River/Desert Hills Water, LLC remain unchanged. We are now in the process of working towards the establishment of a Domestic Water Improvement District (DWID) to make water available for our future.
Continued community support and volunteerism are essential as this process unfolds towards the formation of the New River/Desert Hills Water District. Success will ensure our community has an affordable and consistent water source.