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Wastewater Overflow Problems Remain In Johnson Utilities Service Area

The interim manager for the East Valley water and sewage treatment company Johnson Utilities told the Arizona Corporation Commission that water pressure and supply has been increased for customers, but issues related to wastewater treatment continue.

EPCOR, one of the largest water utilities in the Southwest, was installed as interim manager for Johnson in 2018 after customers complained of repeated water outages and sewer overflows.

Company representatives told the Corporation Commission at the latest open meeting that EPCOR has added more than 9 million gallons of potable water supply to the system. But Jeff Stuck with EPCOR said problems with wastewater overflows remain. “Many that we are experiencing are related to contractors with utility strikes to the Johnson Utilities infrastructure,” Stuck said.

Stuck said fixing the wastewater problems will take significant capital investments, but an attorney for Johnson Utilities told the Commission the company has been unable to secure the necessary loans.

EPCOR has reached an agreement to acquire Johnson which serves an area encompassing 160 square miles in Florence, Queen Creek and San Tan Valley.

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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.