Ahead of the warm summer season, EPCOR is making progress developing sources of quality water to ensure adequate supplies for customers. We’re completing construction on a pipeline associated with San Tan Well #1 and expect this well to begin supplying water to the system in the next few weeks. The Magma Well #1 has also been tested and approved and should begin operation soon. Well pump testing at several other non-operational wells continues in the hopes of identifying additional sources of quality water for different regions of the system.
We’re also finalizing a project to correct water pressure and quality issues at two wells in the Oasis area. As a result of this work, we expect to be able to lift the meter management restrictions in Region 4 which is the Oasis Magic Ranch area by the end of April.
Lastly, we are working with Queen Creek on a possible water interconnect. The Town sent EPCOR a draft agreement on April 4, 2019 and EPCOR responded with questions on April 9, 2019.
We’ve completed installation of a water line for the reverse osmosis (RO) treatment system at Morning Sun Farms. The RO unit is currently in testing mode and is ready for operation. In addition, installation of the ion exchange (IX) treatment system at the Main Yard water plant to treat Johnson Ranch Wells #3, #4 and #5 is progressing. The start of operations could be delayed until early May because of materials shortages from the supplier. In the interim, another RO unit is now operational at Johnson Ranch Well #4 – this is a transitional measure to aid with water blending at the Main Yard plant until its IX system is fully operational.
System-wide Improvements We’re working through details and approvals needed to proceed with planned capital improvements at that Pecan, San Tan, and Anthem treatment plants. Improvements are also moving ahead at the lift stations throughout the system, which perform the critical function of physically lifting wastewater from customer areas so it can be transported to treatment plants. As part of a system-wide effort to improve functionality at the lift stations, we’ve repaired or are replacing generators at each one. Fully Treated Effluent Discharge As a result of rainy weather in February, there were two releases of A+ level, fully treated effluent from the Pecan water reclamation plant into the Queen Creek wash that month. Expansion of the Pecan plant is a top priority for EPCOR’s capital improvements to the Johnson Utilities system. Given the need for effluent release from the San Tan plant into the Queen Creek wash, we are proactively looking for customers to receive excess effluent until this plant is permanently upgraded. A local farmer has agreed to receive effluent for irrigation. We’ve also begun installing an effluent line under the Hunt Highway and expect this project to be finished by mid-April. Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) There were two sanitary sewer overflows on April 1 and one on April 7. In each incident, our team responded immediately with the necessary repairs and restoration and notified the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality as required. Two of the incidents were caused by issues with contractors on construction projects. The third incident occurred at the Morning Sun Farms lift station and resulted, in part, from floating debris caused by fats, oils and greases being flushed down drains.
Until long-term capital improvements are made at the wastewater facilities, minimizing SSOs through temporary means remains a top priority. We’re in the final stages of activating remote-monitoring alarm systems at all lift stations, and we’re troubleshooting pumps at the Main Yard lift station. These short-term improvements boost our ability to anticipate SSOs before they happen and respond quickly should one occur.
Section 11 Treatment Plant Optimization
As we’ve reported previously, replacement of the Section 11 water reclamation plant is a high priority for capital improvements to the overall Johnson system. Construction of the new plant will take up to two years. In the short term, we’re working hard to identify and implement strategies for optimizing operations at the existing plant to handle immediate needs.
In late February, we learned of a previously unknown line feeding influent (untreated wastewater) into the Section 11 facility. Because the influent was unmetered, we’ve set up measuring procedures to make sure our planning data for this facility accounts for the additional influent. We’ve also begun the design phase for improvements to the Mirage lift station, which will enable additional wastewater flows from Section 11 to be diverted to the Anthem treatment plant. We expect this project to be completed in late 2019.
There were recent (March 27 and April 1), brief exceedances of elevated values for hydrogen sulfide at Section 11 – in lay language, a minor violation of odor limits. We monitor for hydrogen sulfide levels every 10 minutes and then record and share the results weekly with the Pinal County Air Quality Department. We understand that issues with odor are unpleasant and appreciate customer patience as we address them.