A Look Back
By EPCOR USA
As of August 31, it’s been a year since EPCOR stepped in as Interim Manager of Johnson Utilities. We’d like to take a look at what’s been done since then toward our initial goals for customers.
One of our first actions as Interim Manager was to undertake a detailed, thorough analysis of the Johnson Utilities system. The resulting report became the foundation for a three-year, roughly $129 million capital improvement plan that the Arizona Corporation Commission approved this past July.
At the same time, our team went to work with the Johnson Utilities staff on four primary goals for immediate improvements. A year later, we’re tracking very well on each of these goals:
- Ensuring all drinking water meets or exceeds all drinking water standards. Every month the EPCOR team and Johnson Utilities staff take the necessary steps to make sure water delivered to customers is clean and safe. Legally required annual water quality reports issued in June 2019 reported that all water in the system met or exceeded existing state and federal safety regulations for the test year.
- Putting proper safeguards in place to prevent future sewer overflows. We’ve reduced the incidence of sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) through direct improvements to individual components in the wastewater system. As of September 12, in the last 60-plus days there were no SSOs reported, and the one before that was caused by contractor error, not discrepancies in the system. This is a significant improvement since last August.
- Addressing water pressure concerns. Water pressure issues have greatly improved throughout the service territory, largely as a result of increased water supplies and our efforts to hone in on where problems are originating and correcting them as soon as possible. Where there are continuing concerns with low water pressure, we’re identifying causes and strategizing solutions.
- Ensuring that Johnson Utilities customers get fair and accurate bills. An early step EPCOR took as Interim Manager was auditing the Johnson Utilities billing system and making adjustments to verify that bills are calculated correctly every month. We also provided customer care training and improved back-of-house processes to help reduce customer service wait times.
We’ve also tackled other pressing concerns. Chief among these were water supply for the summer 2019 season, and issues at the Section 11 and Pecan wastewater treatment plants.
By bringing three existing but non-producing wells into production and installing water treatment technologies to make sure the new sources meet safety standards, we were able to meet customer demand for water through the extreme heat of the summer. At the same time, we focused on a multi-pronged strategy for developing future supplies as Johnson Utilities’ customer base grows.
We worked on several fronts during the year to repair, replace, and/or optimize wastewater treatment collection lines and treatment facilities, with special attention to the Section 11 and Pecan plants. The plants are now performing at closer to their maximum capacity and air quality
around them is significantly improved. As we’ve developed the capital improvement plan for the next three years, expansion, repair and/or replacement of wastewater infrastructure are at the top of the list of priorities. It has been rewarding for the EPCOR team and the Johnson Utility employees we work alongside every day to bring about these improvements for Johnson Utilities customers. There’s also a great deal of work still needed for long-term service security for the utility. We’re committed to staying the course, and we thank all customers for your cooperation as we do so.