A message to Johnson Utilities Customers


On August 31 management and operations of Johnson Utilities was transferred to EPCOR, effective immediately.


We recognize that the past months have been challenging, both for customers and employees. Under EPCOR's leadership, we are focused on the road ahead and the critical work that needs to be done to address operational and infrastructure issues, to ensure clean, safe and reliable utility services, and to restore Johnson Utilities customers' trust.


EPCOR is fully committed to bringing our operational, engineering and customer service expertise to Johnson Utilities and to you, and we appreciate your patience as we focus on the work ahead.

water • purity • life 

A CUSTOMER UPDATE FROM EPCOR

December 10, 2018

As Interim Manager of Johnson Utilities, EPCOR is working hard to address issues that matter most to customers. We’re providing regular updates here and on www.johnsonutilities.com on improvements underway.



Help Us Protect Your Wastewater System

The holidays are here, and there’s a good chance you’re cooking more than usual or entertaining houseguests. Now is a smart time to review tips for preventing drain clogs and sewer backups, many of which can start at home.



Avoid putting fats, oils, and grease (FOG) down your sink or garbage disposal. Once inside your system, these materials can easily solidify and clog pipes.

 

Skip flushing anything other than bath tissue down the toilet. This includes paper towels, feminine supplies, baby wipes, dental floss, etc. Even products marked “flushable” can cause major backups requiring expensive repairs.



What We’re Doing to Clean and Maintain Your Wastewater System

Sewer backups are a priority and we work immediately to address issues when a customer calls. But we’re also laser focused on getting to the root of the problem and putting long-term solutions in place. We’re fixing valves that are broken or not in the correct position and we’re actively cleaning out neighborhood mains where grease and other debris, like flushable wipes and towels, have blocked pipes.



Wastewater systems are gravity fed and need a little help from lift stations to move things along when elevation changes or a lot of waste is flowing through the pipe. In some areas, too many pipes send waste to one lift station. To prevent overflows, we added additional measures to keep the pumps working. This is especially important when we’re cooking holiday meals and entertaining friends and family.



What about Section 11? More wastewater is being sent to the Section 11 wastewater treatment plant than it can handle, so we’re focused on short-term solutions to relieve the strain, like diverting some flow to other treatment facilities and making temporary changes that could increase the plant’s efficiency. The long-term solution continues to be replacing Section 11 with a new, mechanical treatment facility.



The Hunt Highway Widening Project and Our Role

There’s lots of activity happening along Hunt Highway where the County is widening this important stretch of transportation infrastructure. We’re doing our part to help, by moving the existing sewer main so that it is buried in the right location and deep enough to protect it. A temporary pipeline was installed along the road to make sure the project didn’t interrupt your service while the permanent line was being relocated. Our work on the sewer line relocation should be complete by the end of the year.



How We’re Managing New Meter Requests

A recent analysis of Johnson Utilities’ infrastructure found that the system needs substantial improvements before it can adequately meet current and future building development in the service territory. For this reason, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) voted on November 7 to temporarily limit the number of water and wastewater hookups granted to developers to 28 per month. The limit is sometimes being referred to as a “partial moratorium”, or a “stay”.



Different areas within the Johnson Utilities system have different water and sewer capacities, and the ACC order specifically directs how new meter requests should be treated, depending on where the site requested is located. The area served by the Section 11 wastewater plant, for example, cannot accommodate new sewer hookups until an infrastructure solution is in place, while this same area (area #3) has water infrastructure that is able to accommodate new growth.



Since the ACC decision that gave direction on how new meter requests should be treated, we’ve worked directly with each homebuilder to ensure that the ACC’s directions on new meter hookups are followed. We carefully review every new meter request and have developed an application process and a set of criteria, including geographic verification by the developer that the site requested falls within an area approved by the November 7 ACC order, that each new meter applicant must complete before we approved and proceed with any new meter hookup.



EPCOR will continue working on improvements and will request areas to be taken off the moratorium as sufficient infrastructure is put in place. We expect the ACC to revisit the issue again in six months – roughly May 2019. In the meantime, we’re adhering closely to the limited number of new meters allowed per month.



Keeping Your Water Safe

Certain Johnson Utilities drinking water (potable) wells have been unavailable for use, due to high nitrate levels. These wells are important and we’ve been working on solutions that will bring them back into service, ensuring your water is safe and it’s there in time for the hot summer months.



Nitrate treatment: We’re designing an Ion Exchange unit for Johnson Ranch wells #4 and #5, which will remove nitrates from the water. We expect this solution to be in service by April 2019. We’re developing a similar solution for Morning Suns Farm.

RO systems: We’re also redeploying two trailer-mounted RO systems, which will allow high-nitrate wells to be used and blended as necessary until a permanent solution can be established. 

 

Water Pressure Progress

Making Progress: We’re installing VFD motor controllers, air relief valves where none previously existed, and conducting “valve sweeps” to verify that valves controlling the flow of water are operating correctly. We also continue to use pressure loggers to get to more detail on water-flow patterns and issues – this data helps us make immediate operating system adjustments in place. The longer-term solution continues to include establishing “pressure zones” to manage water pressure according to consumer demand – this will be part of the longer-term capital plan.



Remember: If you have an issue, call customer service at 480-987-9870. We need as much information as possible to put pressure loggers in the right locations, record the details for a week or two, and better pinpoint the issue and put a solution in place.



Discussions Continue on a Possible Interconnect with Queen Creek

Summer isn’t that far away, and that’s when demand for water hits a high point. We continue to work with the Town of Queen Creek on a possible interconnect that would help meet the highest water demand days for next summer. Together we’ve agreed on a location where the two systems could be interconnected and how much water Queen Creek could send to the Johnson Utilities system if needed. There are still some details to be worked through, and we appreciate the Town’s partnership.


Contact Us

24/7 Bill Payment:                                     1-844-567-2502
Online:                                                      www.johnsonutilities.com
Customer service & billing inquiries:         480-987-9870
Emergencies:                                            480-987-9870 (press 6) or 480-887-0648   


A CUSTOMER UPDATE FROM EPCOR



October 18, 2018

It’s been 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 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.

Hiring and Training

EPCOR leaders, from operations and customer service to rates and communications, are working directly with Johnson Utilities team members to provide your service. This includes hands-on training and hiring qualified operators to provide your service. EPCOR is hiring the following positions for Johnson Utilities:

Water Operator Foreman
Water Distribution Foreman
Wastewater Plant Foreman
Wastewater Collection Foreman

Visit www.johnsonutilities.com for job descriptions and how to apply.

How to Contact Us

24/7 Bill Payment:                                 1-844-567-2502
Online:                                                   www.johnsonutilities.com
Customer service & billing inquiries:     480-987-9870
Emergencies:                                         480-987-9870 (press 6) or 480-887-0648   September 19, 2018




A CUSTOMER UPDATE FROM EPCOR



Johnson Utilities transferred its management and operations to EPCOR USA on August 31, and our team has been working quickly to come up to speed on the operations and what needs to be done.

We recognize that the past months have been challenging. We’re focused on the road ahead and the critical work that needs to be done to address operational and infrastructure issues and to ensure clean, safe, reliable service. We do not take this responsibility lightly.

First and foremost, EPCOR is committed to being a good neighbor, a community partner, a quality employer and provider of clean drinking water that meets or exceeds all quality standards. For Johnson Utilities customers, our immediate priorities are: 

  • Ensuring all drinking water meets or exceeds all drinking water standards.
  • Putting proper safeguards in place to prevent future sewer overflows.
  • Addressing water pressure concerns.
  • Ensuring that Johnson Utilities customers get fair and accurate bills.   


We have the operational, engineering and customer service expertise to make a difference. Team members from EPCOR’s Operations, Engineering, Environmental Compliance, Human Resources, Health & Safety, Customer Service and Public & Government Affairs groups are partnering and collaborating with Johnson Utilities’ employees and we appreciate your patience as we tackle the important work ahead.

We’re identifying immediate improvements that can be made in the first 3-6 month, as well as planning for longer-term improvements all focusing on safety and customer service issues. Some changes can be made quickly, while long-term infrastructure solutions will take a little longer. We know it’s not easy, but we’re asking for your patience.

The bottom line is this – we’re focused on getting in there and making a difference.

Introducing EPCOR – Community Open House

It’s important that you get to know us and learn more about what’s being done to improve your service. Please join EPCOR, Supervisor Goodman, Rep. Townsend, Rep. Shope and Rep. Cook for a community meeting:​

Thursday, October 11, 2018
6 to 7:30 pm
Central Arizona College – SanTan Campus
3736 E Bella Vista Road, San Tan Valley, AZ 85143

Engineering Review and Analysis

Separate from EPCOR’s role as Interim Manager, EPCOR is conducting a 60-day Engineering Review and Analysis for the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC). This study, a comprehensive evaluation of the assets and needs of the water and wastewater systems and facilities that provide your service, is on schedule to be provided to the ACC at the end of September. It will be an important step in addressing the issues affecting your service.​

Water Pressure Concerns

Customers are reporting low water pressure at their homes. Rest assured, EPCOR’s team is actively looking into this and we’re prioritizing calls where water pressure is dipping below 20 psi. ​

Here’s what we’re doing: Our engineering team is reviewing the entire system to determine customer usage patterns and system capacity. We’ve identified several booster stations that aren’t properly sized to accommodate water demand, and we’re establishing zones to manage pressure. Infrastructure work will be needed to put permanent solutions in place, and that’s going to take time. ​

Here’s where we need your 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, how bad was the pressure. With that information, we can put a pressure logger in place and record the pressure for a week or two so that we can better pinpoint the issue and how to resolve it.​

Preventing Against Sewer Overflows

We’ve identified many of the same concerns that the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) previously did. Our team is evaluating the facilities to determine the best solution for both the short- and long-term, prioritizing safety and customer service concerns.

Sanitary sewer overflows are a critical priority. The engineering evaluation will identify short- and long-term priorities for the system, and our operations team is working on immediate changes that can be made.

For example, Johnson Utilities utilizes 36 different lift stations to move wastewater through pressurized pipelines to different treatment facilities. During a recent lift station overflow, we discovered that the valves controlling the flow of the wastewater were not operating and that there were no air relief valves on the five-mile force main. We temporarily bypassed the system to make those immediate repairs.

Customer Service and Billing
EPCOR’s Director of Customer Operations and our Customer Care specialists are working directly with the Johnson Utilities team to address any billing or service concerns that are received, and we’re reviewing processes that are currently in place to determine what improvements should be made.​

Your Bill for Service: EPCOR is Interim Manager, but your bill for service will still come from and is due to Johnson Utilities because it remains a separate legal entity. EPCOR has direct oversight of the utility’s finances and will ensure that your bills and payments are processed appropriately.

Contacting us and Reporting Service Issues: Johnson Utilities provides your service, under EPCOR’s management and direction. To contact customer service or report a service issue, please call:

24/7 Bill Payment:                                      1-844-567-2502
Online:                                                 www.johnsonutilities.com
Customer service & billing inquiries:         480-987-9870
Emergencies:                       480-987-9870 (press 6) or 480-887-0648