City seeks to limit new water meters outside its limits | City News

Cave Creek city council is expected to discuss limiting new water meters outside of its limits at a meeting in November.

City staff presented proposals for updating the 2017 water policy at the September 20 council meeting. The revisions are intended to help ensure the long-term sustainability of water supplies for the Cave Creek and Desert Hills water supply systems.

In 2006 and 2007, the Town of Cave Creek took over the operations of the private water companies Desert Hills and Cave Creek. Since these acquisitions, the city has been committed to providing the highest quality water services inside and outside its municipal boundaries, according to a city statement.

The legal water supplies for the two water service areas are different. Desert Hills only has rights to non-renewable groundwater accessible through wells. Cave Creek has non-renewable groundwater rights and a renewable allocation of Colorado River water provided through the Central Arizona Project (CAP).

There are three groundwater wells in the Desert Hills system, but production has been declining for several years. A 2020 hydrological study concluded that the city cannot count on drilling new wells to replace dwindling well capacity in Desert Hills.

In 2020, over 77% of Desert Hills’ water supply came from the CAP allocation for Cave Creek. The city is working to secure new CAP water supplies for Desert Hills. To date, the city has obtained less than half of the CAP water that Cave Creek delivered to Desert Hills in 2020. The new CAP provided for Desert Hills water is also a lower delivery priority and cannot be used to support future development. It is only useful to meet current demands.

The 2017 water policy limited new accounts to one meter per plot. Any new subdivision or large water user was necessary to bring new water resources to the city. However, due to the continuing decline of groundwater in Desert Hills, it has become necessary to limit any new water service in Desert Hills, unless there is a contractual or legal obligation to serve. Existing letters of service are not considered a contractual obligation as they only represent an intention to authorize a new service at an earlier time.

This a revision is proposed to reflect the fact that Desert Hills does not have its own long-term secure water supplies. The city will continue to provide water services to existing Desert Hills accounts, while working to secure new long-term water resources for the area.


Watch a recording of the presentation of the Director of Public Services at the regular council meeting on September 20:

For the support report, see the September 2 presentation agenda at

About Jefferey G. Cannon

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