Will “Closing Section 11 Wastewater Treatment Plant” actually happen?

Order of Abatement

By The United Citizens 

Here are the facts and here’s what we know.

On June 6, 2018, Johnson Utilities announced that they are “moving forward with plans to close its Section 11 Wastewater Treatment Plant (“WWTP”) located at 5452 East Hunt Highway. The Section 11 WWTP has been at the center of odor complaints from nearby residents in recent years. Wastewater currently being treated at the Section 11 WWTP will be treated at a new regional facility to be known as the Copper Basin Water Reclamation Plant that will be constructed by the Company after it receives the required regulatory permits and approvals. The Copper Basin WRP will be a state-of-the-art enclosed mechanical plant. “The Company sees this as a win-win for all involved,” says Gary Drummond, the Manager of Johnson Utilities.” 

This is a BIG WIN for the citizens and communities surrounding Section 11 WWTP who have been plagued with hazardous gases (search: “hydrogen sulfide” on santantimes.com) and other nuisance odors being emitted from the facility.

Though encouraging for the Pinal County citizens, this isn’t the first time Johnson Utilities made a public proclamation related to updating the Section 11 WWTP in effort to reduce the hydrogen sulfide emissions.

During a Pinal County Board of Supervisor Meeting on June 21, 2017 BOS Regular Session (View the video here: http://pinalcountyaz.swagit.com/play/06212017-672, Item 4T 6 minutes 30 seconds) – In response to Pinal County issuing a potential legal penalty as high as $1,008,000 due to the hazardous gas emissions at the Section 11 WWTP, Johnson Utilities Chief Operations Manager, Brad Cole, indicates that experts were coming in from “Parkson Company” to help with updating the Section 11 WWTP from a “lagoon style plant” to a “mechanical plant” which would eliminate the “polishing/reed ponds”. Brad stated he believes that the polishing/reed ponds were the source of the odor.

Why are we bringing this up?

Brad Cole, COO of Johnson Utilities, had made a public proclamation to the citizens and customers of Johnson Utilities to update Section 11 WWTP and the residents did not see ANY results.

Johnson Utilities Chief Operations Manager, Brad Cole, indicates that experts were coming in from “Parkson Company” to help with updating the Section 11 WWTP from a “lagoon style plant” to a “mechanical plant” which would eliminate the “polishing/reed ponds”. Brad stated he believes that the polishing/reed ponds were the source of the odor. 

It’s nice to see Johnson Utilities publicly post that they’ve decided to close down their Section 11 WWTP. But, let’s keep in mind, and on point as far as where this new treatment plant is/should be located, so the same issues residents have been plagued with now doesn’t continue when they build the new plant. Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has a setback requirement on waste water facilities

Unanswered questions:

  • Johnson Utilities does not provide the following details in their Press Release:
  • A timeline as to when the new plant will be built?
  • Where exactly will it be built?
  • How much it will cost?

Seems like the unaccounted $15 million dollars/annually that was discussed during the ACC investigation hearing could cover the cost of the new plant – but does JU intend to increase rates to cover the cost of the new plant and closing of Section 11 or are they actually going to reinvest in their infrastructure with the money they appear to already have?

What can you do?

Continue to be a “loud majority” voice in the community, continue to be involved in this issue and keep DEMANDING CHANGE in Johnson Utilities. Share videos with us, share posts on social media, be informed, stay involved! Keep the foot on the gas! Let’s continue to hold Johnson Utilities, Pinal County, Arizona Corporation Commission, and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality accountable for the water/waste water issues that have plagued our community for decades! We will see change!

 

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