Despite end to Rio Verde water battle, one donkey sanctuary is struggling: 'It's just the worst'

While a long-fought battle over water in Rio Verde appears to be over for now, one nonprofit is still being forced to cut back operations because they don't have enough.

"We get about 800 gallons a week from [this well] and it really helps supplement things," said Rosemary Carroll, who runs the Hangry Donkey Sanctuary.

But it's not easy. The water from the well at the sanctuary comes out like chocolate milk, and it takes days to clean.

"It is a lot of work, and it's not like I needed more work to do," Carroll said.

Gov. Katie Hobbs signed off on a bill that would create a new standpipe water district in the area and facilitate the water sale from Scottsdale to Rio Verde, bringing an end to the fight over the precious natural resource. 

But Carroll isn't seeing immediate relief. Every day, the quality of the water gets worse.


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"It's really dying off, and that's a little disheartening," she said.

The real source of water for the 20 donkeys here comes from water haulers. It's how most in the Rio Verde Foothills have gotten by since Scottsdale turned off the water at the start of the year.

"My bills last year were about $500 a month, now it's $1,500," said Carroll.

As a short-term and long-term solution is in the works, she says she'd had to hold off on accepting new donkeys. They take in neglected or abused donkeys and care for them. 

At their peak, they had 28. Now, they max out at 20.

"I get calls multiple times a week for a donkey in trouble, and I just can't do it," Carroll said. "We don't have water."

She hopes they'll be able to get by before short-term water comes. In the meantime, every day gets harder.

"It keeps me up at night," she said. "It's just the worst."

Learn more about the sanctuary and how you can volunteer: