The Largest Population Of Pinal County Continues To Be Taken Advantage Of And Lied To
With resident after resident reaching out to us with their frustrations, the growing list of areas currently dealing with low water pressure includes, but isn’t limited to, Oasis at Magic Ranch, Copper Basin, Johnson Ranch, Solera, Rancho Bella Vista, and the area around and including Eduprise.
Eduprise was told on Wednesday that their problems would be solved within 24 house. 48 hours later their problems remain and they are forced to “manually flushing the toilets. We also have water bottles available to students.” (Note: As of Saturday Eduprize is reporting better water pressure.)
This indicates that it is an immediate health and safety concern and needs to be corrected immediately.
Population Increase To Blame For Low Water Pressure?
Johnson Utilities representatives have repeatedly told costumers that high volume of water usage and increased population is partly to blame for the low water pressure, while telling some customers that low water pressure can be expected due to the increased population. With over 10,000 additional rooftops currently planned for, which would mean an additional 35,000 to 40,000 people, plus common area water usage, what can residents expect for the immediate future?
When asked, Johnson Utilities representatives have told customers to speak with ADEQ regarding water permits for developers. Which has come to a surprise of some residents as they were lead to believe Johnson Utilities holds the water rights to the area and issues the water permits to developers before the county provides building permits.
If the county expects growth in the largest populated area of Pinal County, they should take the time out of there own self-interests and fix this problem. If Supervisor House took even a fraction of the effort he puts into defending a utility that is taking advantage of the largest population in Pinal County, this area would have far more progress than the residents have currently seen.
Additionally, why has San Tan Valley received no support from Senator Pratt and Representative Shope on this lengthy, ongoing problem? And where is Representative Kelly Townsend? Both representatives have constituents in San Tan Valley.
Coincidentally, Townsend and Shope are currently up for re-election. You can contact them directly:
State Senator Frank Pratt
AZ State Senate, Rm 304
1700 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007
It should be noted that Shope is on the Agriculture and Water Committee and the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee. You would think water quality would be on his radar. Senator Frank Pratt was the Vice-Chair of Natural Resources, Energy & Water in 2017. Another, seemingly, related committee to the problems that San Tan Valley has faced.
Shope was quoted in a 2014 Pinal Central article saying “Arizona is already leading the way in water conservation… Let’s be clear on one thing: We are in no way, shape or form in any of the imminent danger like California is,” he said. “Arizona is the envy of the western United States when it comes to protecting its water, when it comes to preserving water for future use. So, we really should take credit where it’s due because there are many things that Arizona gets criticized for, but protecting water is not one of them.”
Maybe San Tan Valley isn’t included in what Shope considers Arizona as this water problem has existed for over a decade and tens of thousands of residents are now dealing with water problems within his district.
Immediate Halt On All Housing Development?
If the Utility is telling residents that it cannot handle the current population to the point that schools are manually flushing toilets and bringing in bottled water, the health and safety risk is becoming clear. Until a proper evaluation of the utility can be made, along with an assessment of the capacity of the available water, how can the county continue to allow rooftops to be built?
Which leads us back to the ongoing problem with Pinal County Supervisors. Supervisors Rios and House have been openly hostile to San Tan Valley residents with House defending his long time friend George Johnson and Johnson Utilities.
Meanwhile Supervisor Miller testified that he did not attend the local ACC hearings as it did not affect his constituents. But, he was more than willing to vote against San Tan Valley when it came time to hold Johnson Utilities accountable.
Well Has Run Dry
Over in Copper Basin, the HOA has been informed that a well has run dry and they have gotten their lawyer involved to help handle a situation that is going to take “months to complete.” The HOA released the following information to their community:
“Johnson Utilities has advised that the water supply to the Association depends on a well, which is nearly dry. It further advised that a pipeline to the well, its backup system, is going to be under construction, which will require months to complete. Online, it has posted a notice of a well pumping problem. Various news reports suggest scandal and troubling business practices, but no administrative or court judgments are available. Unfortunately, the Association lacks an alternative provider of water utilities, or a contract with Johnson”
Low water pressure is still a problem at Copper Basin.
What Is Really Going On?
Is it bad timing? Is it intentional? Is it just awful infrastructure? Is San Tan Valley beyond the capacity of the Utility? As a wide area of San Tan Valley is encountering low water pressure due to unknown reasons, some residents are speculating that this is retaliation over the ACC hearings and the bribery trial currently underway.
With multiple reasons being given for the problem, from a motor failure, to high usage, to a water main break, to wells being shut down due to nitrate levels, residents are left wondering what is the actual problem.
A contractor for Johnson Utilities, James Taylor, has told one resident that “there were some wells that were operational and safe to use that the water quality was changed on and that we have removed offline.”
What Is ADEQ Doing?
Currently, nothing that has been made public. Multiple calls have been made to ADEQ. At this point, the only names that ADEQ representatives have mentioned that would know about the Johnson Utilities problems is Randall Matas and David Dunaway. Neither have returned calls as of the time this article went online.
Public Health And Safety Concerns
With schools manually flushing toilets and providing bottled water to students, an argument can be made that this qualifies as a public health and safety concern, which Johnson Utilities lawyers argued throughout the evidentiary hearings that as there was no immediate safety concern and that there was no just cause for an interim manager.
Dry wells, wells shut down due to water quality, HOA’s getting lawyers involved to get answers and responses from the utility, community wide water pressure problems, 30+ construction crews having their water meters pulled, it seems that Johnson Utilities decided to help make the case that there is an immediate health and safety concern to the public.