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ADEQ Says Serious Challenges Remain With Johnson Utilities

The Arizona Corporation Commission held a special meeting Wednesday to get an update on East Valley water and sewage company Johnson Utilities. The commission appointed EPCOR interim manager of Johnson Utilities in 2018 after customers complained of low water pressure, unannounced outages and sewage overflows.

ADEQ Director Misael Cabrera said while his agency has identified recent compliance issues at the utility under EPCOR’s management, it has not documented them.

“We have utilized our enforcement discretion, via, creating patience for the ACC and EPCOR and legal process to run its course,” Cabrera said.

But he said the agency’s patience is running out, citing continued groundwater pollution, violation of reclaimed water standards and sewer overflows.

An EPCOR spokesman stated the company’s reputation depends on a spotless compliance record, and if ADEQ starts citing EPCOR for problems that it believes Johnson Utilities is responsible for, EPCOR could walk away from the interim management agreement.

Jimmy Jenkins is a senior field correspondent at KJZZ and a contributor to NPR’s Election 2020 and Criminal Justice station collaborations. His work has been featured on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, Here and Now, The Takeaway and NPR Newscasts.Originally from Terre Haute, Indiana, Jenkins has a B.S. in criminology from Indiana State University and a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.Much of his reporting has focused on the criminal justice system. Jenkins has reported on Tasers, body cameras, use of force, jail privatization, prison health care and the criminal contempt trial of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.