For a while, all was good; Rio Verde Foothills was supplied by Scottsdale. Water trucks would roll out to a tap at the edge of town, fill up, then truck that water to individual homes, filling a standard 5,000-gallon tank buried in their yards.
But for years, the city warned that the agreement could not continue in perpetuity. It needed the water for its own growth. Rio Verde Foothills ignored the issue—until the day that Scottsdale finally cut them off.
"We've been telling them for five years since this began that we are not their permanent water solution," said Valerie Schneider, Scottsdale Water's Public information officer. "At some point, we have to realize this is our water, we're in a drought, we're in a Colorado River shortage so we have to take a stance."
One resident hilariously told The Guardian that “her community didn’t ‘want a handout’ from Scottsdale. They want time to figure out a plan and, to her, Scottsdale shutting the water off is unneighborly and un-American.” Apparently, five years wasn’t enough. And … funny to hear a libertarian talk about being “unneighborly.” Isn’t that literally their thing? That woman had more to say:
“Think of the sacrifices some Americans have made for each other. And then these people are sitting here saying, ‘Well, you know, you should just dry up and die.’ Really? I just find it mind-blowingly unpatriotic,” she said.
Let me find that head-mushroom-cloud emoji … 🤯
Nothing says “AMERICA FUCK YEAH” more than putting up a house in the middle of a desert, without any regard to infrastructure, in a place designed to avoid laws, regulations, and government, and then crying when someone else won’t cater to your needs and whims. AMERICA!
Residents have had two options: one, have the private water haulers find other sources of water, which they’ve already done. But those sources are further out and are just as subject to being cut off, as Scottsdale did. This increases uncertainty and costs. Libertarian free-market principles can get pricey!
The other option was, well, government.
Incorporating could give the community more options for water supply in future but forming an official town or city brings requirements, such as paved roads, street lights, more taxation and rules.
Dear god, could you imagine? Well, what about creating a new water district? That could also work!
When some proposed forming their own self-funded water provider, other residents revolted, saying the idea would foist an expensive, freedom-stealing new arm of government on them. The idea collapsed.
“I don’t want to control water. That’s not my business,” Reim said. “I just want my neighbors to have water [locally] from whatever source we got to get it from.”
Hold on, hold on … I need this again...
I’m not even going to try and decipher that.
That hasn’t stopped residents from suing the city of Scottsdale to force them to continue providing water, because while they don’t want government on their doorstep, they fully expect some other government to cater to their needs. You know, because they’re such rugged individualists.
This story is being repeated all around Arizona, from Kingman in the Mojave desert, to Cochise County near the Mexican border. It always pits deep-red conservative-libertarian regions against a sudden realization that maybe government rules and regulations exist for a reason, that society can’t exist without them. As one Republican quoted in the Kingman article says, “We are very conservative – I think we’re one of the reddest areas of a red state right now. I don’t think securing your water supply is a partisan issue, or it shouldn’t be.” You see, once they are affected, it’s no longer partisan. Why politicize the things conservatism inherently politicizes?
You ever hear about the libertarian utopia in New Hampshire that was taken down by bears? There was a great book about it, titled A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear. From the book’s summary:
Once upon a time, a group of libertarians got together and hatched the Free Town Project, a plan to take over an American town and completely eliminate its government. In 2004, they set their sights on Grafton, NH, a barely populated settlement with one paved road.
When they descended on Grafton, public funding for pretty much everything shrank: the fire department, the library, the schoolhouse. State and federal laws became meek suggestions, scarcely heard in the town’s thick wilderness.
The anything-goes atmosphere soon caught the attention of Grafton’s neighbors: the bears. Freedom-loving citizens ignored hunting laws and regulations on food disposal. They built a tent city in an effort to get off the grid. The bears smelled food and opportunity.
This Vox story interviewed the author, and he was asked why the experiment failed.
It turns out that if you have a bunch of people living in the woods in nontraditional living situations, each of which is managing food in their own way and their waste streams in their own way, then you’re essentially teaching the bears in the region that every human habitation is like a puzzle that has to be solved in order to unlock its caloric payload. And so the bears in the area started to take notice of the fact that there were calories available in houses.
One thing that the Free Towners did that encouraged the bears was unintentional, in that they just threw their waste out how they wanted. They didn’t want the government to tell them how to manage their potential bear attractants. The other way was intentional, in that some people just started feeding the bears just for the joy and pleasure of watching them eat.
So weird how lawlessness has consequences!
Back in Arizona, Scottsdale is about to agree to a three-year extension of Rio Verde Foothills’ water, assuming it gets additional water from outside sources.
Ironically, those libertarians will get a temporary reprieve because of—you know it—government.
Comments are closed on this story.