Residents and Officials Meet With EPCOR

By San Tan Times Staff

Monday, August 6, offered the opportunity for community leaders the first opportunity to speak with EPCOR representatives.

Matt O’Connell from The United Citizens, Amy Gerrish from San Tan Events, Karen Christian of San Tan Valley Safe Water Advocates, representatives from the San Tan Valley Chamber of Commerce, local resident and State Representative candidate Nick Myers, resident John Dantico along with Representative T.J. Shope, Representative Kelly Townsend, and Representative David Cook, and Supervisor Goodman were in attendance.

The meeting provided local community leaders the ability to ask questions and learn about the possible process and timeline when the Interm Manager contract is in place for EPCOR.

As problems continue to persist throughout the area, from low water pressure to sewage overflows, many residents are anxious to see progress being made.

As much as everyone, including EPCOR, would like the problems to be resolved immediately, Shawn Bradford, vice president of corporate services at EPCOR, stressed that the problems will take time to resolve.

The United Citizens – Clean Air Clean Water Statement

Right now, Epcor is awaiting the interim manager contract to start work immediately. The ball is in the ACC’s court. It should be finalized this week.

Once the interim manager contract is finalized, Epcor intends to do an engineering study which will take approximately 2-3 weeks.

The concern that was brought up today is Johnson Utilities may refuse to “hand over the keys” to allow full access to all water wastewater systems, billing systems, CSR systems and financial systems.

The other dynamic is Ultra Mangement and/or Hunt Management may technically “own” these systems. So if Epcor is the Interim Manager of JU, they may face challenges to access parts of the business. If Johnson Utilities, Ultra or Hunt refuses to any access at all, it could result in ACC enforcing the keys to be handed over – aka – legal battle.

Everyone in the room felt that Epcor is really trying to do the right thing. They want to do it fast but most importantly, they want to do it right because this is the first time in the history of the ACC a “Class A” water utility has been assigned an interim manager. (Class A is the largest water utility size.)

There’s a lot of legal navigation that needs to be carefully done and if we move too hastily, it could nullify all the work you, the public, has done thus far to expose these health and safety issues.

Keep up the good work everyone and…

Johnson Utilities: Do what is right for once., Amy Gerrish Statement

After speaking with representatives from EPCOR USA, we have learned the following.

1. They are waiting on finalization from the ACC and their 3rd Party agreement before they can begin.

2. Their first step is to bring in an Engineering firm to evaluate all the equipment and operations of the utility to determine what needs to be addressed, and in what order.

3. It took many years of not maintaining the infrastructure to get to this point, it won’t be able to be fixed overnight. They will have to upgrade the equipment in phases. They will hold community forums with their timelines as soon as they have the plan from Step 2.

4. They plan to work as expediently as possible, they realize the frustrations and anger coming from the community around the utility.

5. Keep an out on Pinal County news websites for more details! We will share it with them when we get it.

State Representative Kelly Townsend’s Statement Following The Meeting

To the good people of San Tan Valley and Queen Creek:

Thank you, everyone, for your feedback and I must say I am appalled at what you have had to go through. I told the Corporation Commission a few weeks back that I wanted to resolve for you and I wanted it now. Also, TJ Shope and David Cook have also been putting pressure on them. They listened and appointed an interim manager. 

Yesterday we met with the interim manager who explained to us that he needed to get the official contract, needed access to Johnson Utilities billing and to the infrastructure. From there once that happens, they will begin to make an assessment of what they are working with. After they have that information, they can develop a game plan as to how to fix all of this. It will not happen overnight, but the good news is we are moving in the right direction. 

I have expressed to them (and I will express to Johnson Utilities) that we will not let up until this is fixed. I was very clear that this should not be a money-making venture for anyone at this point but that it should be only about getting the area into a sanitary, working condition.

I hope I have demonstrated by now that I cannot be bullied by those seeking to silence me. You can rest assured that I will see this through. I know the timing looks really bad because it’s an election year. There are a lot of people involved who are elected so my recommendation to all of you is to take advantage of that and put some serious pressure on all of us. 

I cannot emphasize enough that I do not take on a project unless I know it will be successful and I do not let go until it is. It took me two years to make sure that the Salt River horses were safe and protected. It wasn’t a popular topic and I didn’t have a ton of support in the beginning. Now that I think about it, it was during an election year. I didn’t drop it after the election was over, and I hope that is one of the several examples to reassure you that I won’t drop this either. However, try me and if you feel I have walked away and left you alone after the election, I give you permission to storm my office. If I were you, that’s what I would do!

This is completely unacceptable and the corporation commission should have taken care of this a very long time ago. We have different people on the commission now and I believe they have heard you and I and have acted. Let’s see what the new interim manager is going to do with this, but the biggest thing right now is that Johnson Utilities lets them inspect what needs to be inspected. It is my hope and expectation that they will. If not, we will need to take this to the next level.

Please accept my humble apologies that this has gone on for so long. I’m embarrassed for our state and for our government. However, we have the leverage now to see this through and we will.