Carefree, Cave Creek engage in water service controversy

(Editor’s note: situations may change on a daily basis. Links are provided at the end of this article)

The towns of Carefree and Cave Creek have recently made the news by firing salvos at each other over water delivery rights – for the most part. Throw in a questionable survey to stir up the pot and you pretty much have the basics.

To simplify with an analogy:

A resident of Carefree would like a glass of water. Two people start arguing over who gives it to them and how much to charge for it. Same applies to taking a shower, watering the plants or flushing the toilet. Any questions?

According to documents, this situation has been in the making for 14 years and now that the day of reckoning has arrived, there’s no question of the existence of an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between the neighboring communities with regards to their respective water companies and the services they provide – but more so on the execution/procedural points – and, of course, money.

Basically, the issues revolve around the Cave Creek Water Company’s service to 500 customers in Carefree (referred to as 20%) and now, Carefree’s attempt to exercise a right, through a condemnation procedure, to acquire those customers under its own venue. In the meantime, there was a “survey” floating around that inferred several cost factors to the residents that inflamed reaction. The results, among others, are:

  • Carefree issued a “Cease and Desist” to Cave Creek on the survey, concluding that Cave Creek was financing the effort and it was based on misleading and/or inaccurate information, not factual. Cave Creek countered with the point that there was nothing illegal about a survey.
  • Cave Creek filed a motion for summary judgment in Maricopa County Superior Court, maintaining that Carefree “neglected to follow the very basics of Arizona law….,” they were not authorized to file condemnation actions, nor did they deliver a written offer nor any appraisals.
  • Other missives posted for the public to digest over the past few weeks have included Carefree questioning the budgeting prowess of Cave Creek, Cave Creek’s insistence of quality service…and on, and on. Now, back to the survey.
    Documents state that the survey in question was conducted, by phone, April 18-22 and that 147 residents responded. Now, it may not be the worst survey in history – but, it’s probably a contender. It was comprised of 13 questions, 4 of which (Q1,Q11,Q12,Q13) were related to demographics. From those, we learned that most of the respondents were elderly, white Republicans and 55.8% were female. Pointless information if you consider the polar opposites (young, Hispanic Democrats) would probably react the same way to questions 8, 9 and 10 – specifically suggesting that Carefree’s action could/would result in a $10 million-dollar price tag, plus an increase in water rates and/or taxes. Questions 2-7 may as well have asked “What’s your favorite color?”
    Not mentioned recently was an IGA scenario between Cave Creek and the City of Phoenix and it’s unclear at this time whether or not that is a factor.
  • Some of the correspondence tries to focus on being neighborly, good faith and intent. We know about good intentions and “good faith” doesn’t translate well in court – and when tens of millions of dollars are at stake, neighborly isn’t the word everyone looks for.
    In the meantime, this is a fluid situation and information may be updated.
    This is the desert. This is about water. This is serious.

Some links to the documents referenced in this article:
CC statement/survey/May6:

You can also just visit the home pages of each town for comprehensive coverage.