The Work That Has Been Done To Date
It’s been over 48 days since EPCOR assumed management and operations of Johnson Utilities, and the team has moved quickly to come up to speed and to address immediate priorities, focusing on water quality and pressure, preventing sewer overflows, and customer service and billing accuracy.
There’s much to be done, and we appreciate your continued patience as we stay focused on the temporary and permanent changes that will improve your water and wastewater service.
Customer Service and Billing
Communications, training and billing accuracy are priorities. Customer service agents are undergoing comprehensive training to be able to provide you with helpful information and a higher level of service.
We’ve also completed a detailed audit of the Johnson Utilities billing system, verifying that bills are calculated correctly according to current rates for service. We’ll continue to verify accuracy each month.
We’ve also heard your concerns about needing information about things that might impact your service. Customers aren’t always at home when the team stops by on a service call or to notify you of a planned outage. Now when a team member stops by they will leave a door hanger to let you know that we were there and the reason for our visit. We’re also working on helpful tips and tools for customers, like how to troubleshoot for leaks. We’ll be updating the website as these are developed – continue to go to www.johnsonutilities.com for updates.
Tax Refunds for Customers
In Decision #76889, the Arizona Corporate Commission (ACC) approved a reduction to rates and a one-time credit to reflect the new tax laws that went into effect in December 2017, and to remove other income taxes from rates. The rate reduction will become effective as of the October billing cycle that starts on the 25th, and the one-time credit will appear on your October bill only. A detailed explanation will arrive in your October bill and will be available on www.johnsonutilities.com.
Engineering Review and Analysis
Separate from EPCOR’s role as Interim Manager, EPCOR was contracted to complete an Engineering Review and Analysis for the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC). A draft of the study, a comprehensive evaluation of the assets and needs of the water and wastewater systems and facilities that provide your service, was provided to the ACC on October 5 and docketed by the ACC on October 10.
This report will be the basis of an infrastructure improvement plan necessary to address issues affecting your service. The report identified three priority areas, a combined $177 million in capital investment. Priority 1 projects – the most critical water and wastewater work – represent $98 million of that total.
Included in that assessment is a recommendation that the Section 11 wastewater plant be replaced with a new, larger plant with the right technology and design to provide the level of service that the Johnson Utilities service area needs. The Section 11 wastewater plant that collects and treats wastewater is currently operating at or above the capacity it was designed to handle. Building a plant will take time – several years. In the meantime, we’re focused on immediate improvements that can be made to protect your service, like re-directing wastewater flows to other treatment facilities.
Water Pressure Concerns
EPCOR’s team remains focused on water pressure concerns, prioritizing those areas and calls where water pressure dips below 20 psi.
Here’s what we’re doing: The operations team is investigating calls as they come in to determine where the issues are originating. In addition to identifying booster stations that aren’t properly sized to accommodate current water demand, we’ve found closed or broken valves that are meant to control the flow of water. To help us get to the root of the issue, we’re using pressure loggers to get more detail on the water flow patterns. Part of the long-term solution will be to establish zones to manage pressure and infrastructure improvements – right now we’re making immediate repairs where we can.
How you can help: If your water pressure is low, call customer service at 480-987-9870. We need as much information as possible – location, the time of the issue, description of the pressure. With that information, we can move the pressure loggers to the right locations, record the pressure for a week or two, and better pinpoint the issue and how to resolve it.
Preventing Against Sewer Overflows
Sanitary sewer overflows remain a critical priority. The engineering evaluation identified short- and long-term priorities for the system and our operations team is working on immediate changes that can be made. For example, some lift stations receive wastewater from multiple areas, more than they were designed to handle. Redirecting some of this wastewater to other treatment facilities is one of the solutions we’re looking at.
Until permanent infrastructure improvements can be put in place, our operations, engineering, water quality, and environmental compliance experts are closely monitoring the wastewater operations.