Johnson Utilities addresses customer complaints, other issues

Johnson Utilities addresses customer complaints, other issues
Johnson Utilities addresses customer complaints, other issues

Representatives with Johnson Utilities tell Arizona's Family they're working on fixing water and sewer issues.

On Tuesday, the company's new spokeswoman Kristin Greene showed what has been done to increase water pressure, address billing concerns and odor issues.

Greene said the company brought back two wells to the water line last month. A third well is scheduled for next month.

"From what we understand with our customers is that it has fixed some of the water pressure issues that they were feeling, the spotty water pressure," explained Greene.

One of the wells was closed for a few years due to nitrate levels.

High nitrate levels, according to ADEQ, could be dangerous to drink.

Greene said that's no longer an issue because the company now has water treatment equipment that filters the water.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality director Michael Cabrera said inspectors have been out to Johnson Utilities 11 times so far this year and issued seven notices of violations that range from odor to sewer overflow to low water pressure issues. ADEQ also fined the company $10,000. Each notice has multiple violations. None of the notices, according to ADEQ have been closed.

ADEQ also reported Johnson Utilities has the most number of environment violations out of any company in the state and that it's been that way since 2012. ADEQ representatives clarified Johnson Utilities is cooperating and putting forth an effort to correct its ADEQ violations.

"If a problem comes up, this utility immediately works on it and sometimes it doesn't look like an immediate fix, because the fix takes time," explained Greene. "I think the concern would be if people threw their hands up and that's not what this company is doing."

"We continue to urge our customers to let us know if there are issues with their water pressure or their water quality because that is something the company takes very seriously," she added. "We want to let them know we're here and we will continue to hear their problems and do everything we can to continue to work on them.

However, the Arizona Corporation Commission doesn't think Johnson Utilities can handle all the problems.

Last week, the ACC appointed a third-party, EPCOR, to temporarily manage Johnson Utilities to help clean up its act. The contract is not official yet but could be soon.

It's a move Johnson Utilities doesn't agree should happen.

"At this point, Johnson Utilities still feels an interim manager is not warranted and we're not closing down our options on legal remedies to that end," explained Greene.

On Tuesday, ADEQ and Johnson Utilities also wanted to clear up misconceptions about the future of Johnson Utilities wastewater treatment plant.

Johnson Utilities applied for an ADEQ permit to build a new retention basin, but it's not to expand the facility.

Greene said the plan to shut down the wastewater treatment plant is moving forward.

She explained the permit is the first step in the process and must be done before the company can build a new wastewater treatment facility that will be enclosed.

"Some customers have experienced some odor concerns so what we're doing is building a new system that will help cut down on that," said Greene.

To learn more or get questions answered in person about the permit process, ADEQ is holding several public comment meetings Wednesday and Thursday.

ADEQ's schedule is below:

  • 12 p.m. | Wednesday, August 8 | Florence Library and Community Center | 778 N. Main Street, Florence, AZ 85132
    5:30 p.m. | Wednesday, August 8 | Florence Library and Community Center | 778 N. Main Street, Florence, AZ 85132
    12 p.m. | Thursday, August 9 | Central Arizona College San Tan Campus | 3736 E Bella Vista Rd, San Tan Valley, AZ 85143
    5:30 p.m. | Thursday, August 9 | Central Arizona College San Tan Campus | 3736 E Bella Vista Rd, San Tan Valley, AZ 85143

As for billing issues, Greene said Johnson Utilities launched a new website in June with what she called a better online billing system that "should help cut down the wait time" for customers who are trying to call the company with concerns about their bills.

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