According to a press release, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has filed a civil complaint against Johnson Utilities worth over $100 million.
Including 57 counts, the civil lawsuit arose after the water company allegedly violated numerous water-quality laws for nearly 35,000 customers they service in areas of Florence, Queen Creek, and the San Tan Valley.
“Johnson Utilities has continuously failed to follow through in the normal collaborative process that ADEQ prefers to remedy non-compliance issues,” said Misael Cabrera, ADEQ Director. “Johnson Utilities has left the Department with no other choice than to pursue legal action.”
As stated in the press release, “Johnson Utilities is the most cited private utility by ADEQ. ADEQ also received nearly 300 complaints from community members about Johnson Utilities, accounting for 68 percent of the total complaints received by the Water Quality Division.”
For several years, Johnson Utilities has been the focus of criticism over rate increases and quality of water that they provide to residents in San Tan Valley. Some of the reports included high levels of nitrate, E-coli incidents, sewage overflow, billing issues and water shutoffs.
The Arizona Corporation Commission conducted an investigation of Johnson Utilities in 2018 following numerous issues regarding the Section 11 Wastewater Treatment plant. Complaints that were filed included odor complaints, hydrogen sulfate, water quality, sewage capacity, sanitary sewage overflows, new sewer connections, and other issues at the facility.
Epcor Utilities was appointed as the interim manager of Johnson Utilities by The Arizona Corporation Commission, after citing concerns with the company’s billing practices, financial management and the condition of its infrastructure.
Town hall meetings are currently scheduled for June 18 and 20 to hear from consumers “regarding other sections of Johnson Utilities’ service territory and wastewater treatment plants,” according to a press release from Commissioner Andy Tobin’s office.