Arizona town cut off from water using rain to flush toilets

Arizona town cut off from water using rain to flush toilets

Skipped showers and rainwater-powered toilets are among the methods an Arizona town has adopted as it battles to cope without water.

Rio Verde Foothills, a suburb of Scottsdale, was cut off from the city's water supply on 1 January.

The controversial move left hundreds without access to running water, prompting residents to file a lawsuit demanding that services be restored.

Scottsdale argues that it bears no responsibility for Rio Verde.

In a statement published on 16 January, the city of Scottsdale said that it had for years "warned and advised" Rio Verde - which is governed by nearby Maricopa County - that it could not depend on the city's water supply, particularly during periods of drought.

"The city remains firm in that position, and confident that it is on the right side of the law," the statement added.

The shut-off has left about 500 homes scrambling for solutions as the last of the Scottsdale water supply delivered to tanks in their yards dwindles.

Local residents quoted by the New York Times described flushing their toilets with rainwater, taking laundry to the homes of friends and eating from paper plates to avoid using water.

Another local resident, Dee Thomas, told Phoenix ABC affiliate KNXV that his family has been forced to use water that collects in their pool.

"At least I can siphon that," Mr Thomas said. "We use it mostly for showering. For, you know, washing clothes, the bathroom."

A lawsuit filed on behalf of residents last week claims that Scottsdale has placed Rio Verde residents under an "unconscionable amount of stress and anxiety by discontinuing their domestic water supply".

"The lack of fresh potable water for families to be able to bathe themselves or running water to flush their toilets is a well-known basic necessity," the lawsuit added.

The city, for its part, has said that "nothing...precludes residents in Rio Verde Foothills from purchasing water from other sources."

"The water haulers who have previously hauled water from Scottsdale have access to water from other jurisdictions and are still offering to haul water to serve the homes in Rio Verde," the Scottsdale statement added.

To address the issue, a number of solutions have been proposed, including the use of a private water company to deliver water using the same pipe infrastructure used previously by Scottsdale.

Additionally, a bill recently introduced by state lawmakers would make Scottsdale financially liable for some costs created by the scarcity.

Arizona is one of 33 US states currently experiencing drought conditions, according to the US Drought Monitor.