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HISTORY OF JOHNSON UTILITIES IN SAN TAN VALLEY
PART 3

JUNE 2016

ACC TO HEAR CASE FROM SAN TAN VALLEY GOLF COURSE & JU

If Johnson Utilities stopped selling the golf course treated effluent, as it has for 10 years, the course’s water bill would soar to five times the current price, likely driving it out of business, the golf course’s attorney has said.

Johnson Utilities said earlier this year it plans to recharge this effluent into the ground for groundwater credits. But attorney Craig Marks, representing The Golf Club, has said Johnson’s real aim is to drive a competitor out of business while continuing to provide effluent to its affiliate Oasis golf course. MORE INFO

AUGUST 2016

JOHNSON UTILITIES ASKS FOR COMPLAINT REHEARING

Swing First responded to the motion on July 27, arguing it should be rejected for three main reasons: granting the motion would “send troubling messages”; the company’s arguments ignore and misstate court and ACC precedent; and JU did not timely file its motion.

The response says Swing First could not increase green fees enough to recover a five-fold increase in water costs and would be forced out of business. After that, property values would plummet for the thousands of existing Johnson Ranch homeowners “when their beautiful golf course degenerated to weeds, snakes and bare dirt.” MORE INFO

NOVEMBER 2016

RESIDENT FILES PETITION ON ODOR

After moving to Oasis at Magic Ranch from Massachusetts this summer, Matt O’Connell and his family were as relieved as anyone when it finally cooled off enough to open the windows at night. Unfortunately, the new cool breeze carried the same old sewer lagoon smell, which forced them to close up the house and turn on the air conditioner.

He said the smell is more than just a nuisance. He said the odor, which he describes as “like rotten eggs or really gross sewage,” is hydrogen sulfide, which in high concentrations can be harmful to humans. MORE INFO

DECEMBER 2016

JOHNSON UTILITIES ISSUED WARNING FROM ADEQ

“There’s really never apologies from Johnson (Utilities),” she said. “We’re forced to use Johnson Utilities. We don’t have a choice. I’m sure I speak for many when I say we feel sometimes we’re being bullied by them. They know…they’re our only (water utility) option.” MORE INFO

MAY 2017

OWNER OF JOHNSON UTILITIES, FORMER CHAIRMAN OF THE ACC, & A LOBBYIST INDICTED ON BRIBERY AND FRAUD CHARGES

Former Chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission Gary Pierce and water company owner George Johnson were indicted this week in federal court on charges of bribery, conspiracy and fraud.

The charges filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday said Pierce approved higher rates for Johnson Utilities in the East Valley and Pinal County in exchange for $31,000, which the company funneled to his wife. MORE INFO

JUNE 2017

PINAL COUNTY STATES JU NOT MAINTAINING SEWER LINES ADEQUATELY

According to Johnson Utilities, water sample results received on June 27 showed nitrate levels of 11 mg/l, which is above the nitrate standard of 10 mg/l. The company had issues with nitrate levels on October 27, 2016 and November 21, 2016 as well as to June 28th’s warning.  MORE INFO

SEPTEMBER 2017

PINAL COUNTY STATES JU NOT MAINTAINING SEWER LINES ADEQUATELY

In a letter sent to Brad Cole, Johnson Utilities’ chief operating officer, Deputy County Attorney Kevin Costello outlined what he called “multiple incidents of damages” caused by the company’s facilities to the county rights of way. Specifically, he references issues with the sewage lines that have failed, causing damage to the surrounding area. MORE INFO

SEPTEMBER 2017

JU REFUSES TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIGH HYDROGEN SULFIDE LEVELS

Despite signing the agreement and agreeing to pay the county, Johnson Utilities isn’t taking responsibility for the high levels; the agreement says: “Nothing herein should be taken as an admission as to any of the above allegations. Johnson Utilities LLC has not, at this point, performed an independent investigation as to their truth or falsity.”

The agreement is a result of a complaint made by Pinal County against the water and sewer utility alleging environmental violations, including high levels of hydrogen sulfide from the company’s facility in Florence in 2016 and 2017. MORE INFO

AUGUST 2017

RAW SEWAGE RAN DOWN THE STREET OF COMMUNITY SERVICED BY JU FOR 2 HOURS

During the call to the public segment of Wednesday’s Pinal County Board of Supervisors, the resident asked the board who Johnson Utilities “answers to” for such issues and what they’re doing to stop the problem.  MORE INFO

AUGUST 2017

REGULATORS AMP UP AUDIT FOR JOHNSON UTILITIES

State regulators have ordered a full rate case of San Tan Valley water provider Johnson Utilities, voiding the rate review ordered in June.

The decision Wednesday sets in stone a hard deadline to file the application. According to an Arizona Corporation Commission news release sent Wednesday afternoon, Johnson Utilities will be required to file its case by Dec. 31.

Staff of the regulatory agency concluded that “it is in the public interest” to modify a previous decision to only require a rate review of Johnson Utilities, according to a memorandum filed last week. MORE INFO

DECEMBER 2017

CUSTOMERS SUE GEORGE JOHNSON OVER ILLEGAL UTILITY FEE SCHEME

Three Pinal County residents have filed a class-action civil complaint against George Johnson, as the utility owner faces criminal charges alleging bribing a public official.

The residents filed the complaint in federal court Monday, accusing Johnson of unlawfully raising utility rates. The plaintiffs seek to get back the money they were allegedly overcharged as part of this “illegal scheme.” MORE INFO

DECEMBER 2017

AFTER BEING CHARGE FOR BRIBERY ON CAGRD FEES, JOHNSON UTILITIES ASKS THE ACC TO LOWER RATES

Effective on Dec. 1, those rates will be slashed from $4.19 to $2.35 per thousand gallons of water delivered in Phoenix AMA and from $2.43 to $1.91 in Pinal County, if approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission. MORE INFO

JANUARY 2018

AND IN THE NEXT BREATH SEEKS A 23% RATE INCREASE

Johnson Utilities has applied for a permanent rate increase from the Arizona Corporation Commission. Fees for water service would increase 23.6 percent, leaving customers with a water bill that would, on average, be about $36 per month. Currently, water users’ bills average about $29 monthly.

For wastewater services, the increase would be 17.6 percent. According to the application, wastewater customers’ bills would be slightly more than $48 per month, up from the current rate of about $41. MORE INFO

FEBRUARY 2018

ACC TO HOLD PUBLIC FORUMS ON THE TOP OF JOHNSON UTILITIES

The Arizona Corporation Commission will be holding six public comment forums to hear outstanding issues, complaints, and input from customers of Johnson Utilities over two days, February 20 and 21, in San Tan Valley, Arizona. These public comment forums give customers the opportunity to have their voices heard by Commissioners. MORE INFO

APRIL 2018

65,000 GALLONS OF RAW SEWAGE SPILLED

Johnson Utilities Drinking Water Advisory for nitrate. ADEQ notified Johnson Utilities (PWS 11182) customers on Dec. 2, 2016, to not provide water to infants under of the age of 6 months or use the water to make infant formula because of elevated nitrate levels.

On December 6th, 2016, ADEQ has confirmed the problem has been resolved and tap water can be given to infants under the age of 6 months. MORE INFO

 

MAY 2018

ACC REVEALS JU DIVERTS 1/2 ITS REVENUE INTO "SHELL' COMPANIES

The operations of a company that has taken in millions of dollars in utility money from residents of San Tan Valley and Florence are a mystery, apparently even to the family that owns it. MORE INFO

MAY 2018

LOW WATER PRESSURE PLAGUES MANY COMMUNITIES IN SAN TAN VALLEY

On May 30, Johnson Utilities posted a letter online, blaming a failed well motor. By then, Johnson Ranch’s Homeowners Association discovered their irrigation water had been cut off. In the common areas, grass died and plants shriveled. The Arizona Corporation Commission opened an investigation and promised a public hearing in the next six weeks. 

The company had previous problems with sewage in the streets, water quality and billing.

“At this point, you just got to put someone else in there to take over, and that’s the bottom line,” O’Connell said. “Twenty years with the same issues is 20 years too long.” MORE INFO

JUNE 2018

POLICE INVESTIGATING GEORGE JOHNSON FOR AN ALLEGED THREAT TO FLORENCE TOWN MANAGER

“On Friday June 8th, I received a short phone call from George Johnson (owner of Johnson Utilities), during which he made a serious threat against me. Immediately after the call, a police report was filed with the Florence Police Department to ensure the matter is dealt with in an appropriate manner.” MORE INFO

JUNE 2018

JOHNSON UTILITIES TO CLOSE WATER TREATMENT PLANT

Johnson Utilities has announced plans to close the Section 11 plant off Hunt Highway and replace it with a new facility to be known as the Copper Basin Water Reclamation Plant.

The new plant will be a “state of the art enclosed mechanical plant,” according to a release posted on the company’s website. It will be built on 32 acres that the utility already owns. MORE INFO

JULY 2018

AND IN ANOTHER BREATH PLANS TO EXPAND THE WATER TREATMENT PLANT

 When Johnson Utilities announced in June that it would close the troubled Section 11 wastewater treatment plant and construct a Copper Basin Water Reclamation Plant, local activists expressed skepticism. It has now become clear the plant won’t close anytime soon.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has posted a notice that Johnson Utilities has applied for a permit to expand capacity at the Section 11 plant within the bounds of its current property. MORE INFO

JULY 2018

PINAL COUNTY SUPERVISOR MIKE GOODMAN CHECKS FIRE HYDRANTS MAINTAINED BY JOHNSON UTILTIIES UPON RESIDENT REQUESTS

I want to let you all know that we have heard your call for help and are working to ensure the proper parties are moving quickly to resolve the situation.

July 2, I spent the day with Rural Metro checking water pressure and testing fire hydrants in San Tan Heights, Johnson Ranch, Copper Basin, Magic Ranch and Magma Ranch. MORE INFO

JULY 2018

JOHNSON UTILITIES SUES SUPERVISOR GOODMAN FOR CHECKING FIRE HYSTRANTS

I want to let you all know that we have heard your call for help and are working to ensure the proper parties are moving quickly to resolve the situation.

July 2, I spent the day with Rural Metro checking water pressure and testing fire hydrants in San Tan Heights, Johnson Ranch, Copper Basin, Magic Ranch and Magma Ranch. MORE INFO

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