Johnson Utilities addresses customer complaints, other issues

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Johnson Utilities has applied for an ADEQ permit to build more retention basins at its Waste Water Treatment Facility. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Johnson Utilities has applied for an ADEQ permit to build more retention basins at its Waste Water Treatment Facility. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The company has a new spokeswoman. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The company has a new spokeswoman. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
SAN TAN VALLEY, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Representatives with Johnson Utilities tell Arizona's Family they're working on fixing water and sewer issues.

On Tuesday, the company's new spokeswoman Kristin Greene showed what has been done to increase water pressure, address billing concerns and odor issues.

[RELATED: Customers protest Johnson Utilities]

Greene said the company brought back two wells to the water line last month. A third well is scheduled to be added in the next few days.  

"From what we understand with our customers is that it has fixed some of the water pressure issues that they were feeling, the spotty water pressure," explained Greene.

One of the wells was closed for a few years due to nitrate levels.

High nitrate levels, according to ADEQ, could be dangerous to drink.

[READ MORE: ADEQ: High nitrate levels found in Pinal Co. water; Johnson Utilities says water is safe]

Greene said that's no longer an issue because the company now has water treatment equipment that filters the water.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality director Michael Cabrera said inspectors have been out to Johnson Utilities 11 times so far this year and issued seven notices of violations that range from odor to sewer overflow to low water pressure issues. ADEQ also fined the company $10,000. Each notice has multiple violations. None of the notices, according to ADEQ have been closed.

[RELATED: Johnson Utilities faces allegations from ADEQ after E. coli scare]

ADEQ also reported Johnson Utilities has the most number of environment violations out of any company in the state and that it's been that way since 2012. ADEQ representatives clarified Johnson Utilities is cooperating and putting forth an effort to correct its ADEQ violations.

"If a problem comes up, this utility immediately works on it and sometimes it doesn't look like an immediate fix, because the fix takes time," explained Greene. "I think the concern would be if people threw their hands up and that's not what this company is doing."

[RELATED: Fire hydrants fail tests in San Tan Valley]

"We continue to urge our customers to let us know if there are issues with their water pressure or their water quality because that is something the company takes very seriously," she added. "We want to let them know we're here and we will continue to hear their problems and do everything we can to continue to work on them.

[RELATED: After several high bills, Florence man records water meter acting strangely]

However, the Arizona Corporation Commission doesn't think Johnson Utilities can handle all the problems.

Last week, the ACC appointed a third-party, EPCOR, to temporarily manage Johnson Utilities to help clean up its act. The contract is not official yet but could be soon.

It's a move Johnson Utilities doesn't agree should happen.

"At this point, Johnson Utilities still feels an interim manager is not warranted and we're not closing down our options on legal remedies to that end," explained Greene.

On Tuesday, ADEQ and Johnson Utilities also wanted to clear up misconceptions about the future of Johnson Utilities wastewater treatment plant.

Johnson Utilities applied for an ADEQ permit to build a new retention basin, but it's not to expand the facility.

Greene said the plan to shut down the wastewater treatment plant is moving forward.

She explained the permit is the first step in the process and must be done before the company can build a new wastewater treatment facility that will be enclosed.

"Some customers have experienced some odor concerns so what we're doing is building a new system that will help cut down on that," said Greene.

To learn more or get questions answered in person about the permit process, ADEQ is holding several public comment meetings Wednesday and Thursday.

ADEQ's schedule is below:

  • 12 p.m. | Wednesday, August 8 | Florence Library and Community Center | 778 N. Main Street, Florence, AZ 85132
  • 5:30 p.m. | Wednesday, August 8 | Florence Library and Community Center | 778 N. Main Street, Florence, AZ 85132
  • 12 p.m. | Thursday, August 9 | Central Arizona College San Tan Campus | 3736 E Bella Vista Rd, San Tan Valley, AZ 85143
  • 5:30 p.m. | Thursday, August 9 | Central Arizona College San Tan Campus | 3736 E Bella Vista Rd, San Tan Valley, AZ 85143

As for billing issues, Greene said Johnson Utilities launched a new website in June with what she called a better online billing system that "should help cut down the wait time" for customers who are trying to call the company with concerns about their bills.

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Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Maria HechanovaMaria’s last name is pronounced HETCH-UH-NO-VAH. She joined the 3TV/CBS 5 News team in July 2017, but is no stranger to Arizona.

Click to learn more about Maria.

Maria Hechanova

Prior to moving to Phoenix, she spent four years in Tucson reporting for KOLD News 13 and KMSB FOX 11 covering wildfires, VA transportation issues, and Southern Arizona's largest school district.

Before that, she worked for WLNS-TV, the CBS affiliate in Lansing, Michigan where she learned a lot about the auto industry and almost never took off her parka.

Maria also reported in Yuma where she had the incredible opportunity to fly with the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels and cover countless military homecomings.

She got her start at KPHO in 2008 as a college intern and is happy to be back and working with professionals who helped shape her career.

Shortly after college, Maria landed an internship with the TODAY Show in New York City thanks to the help of the Asian American Journalists Association.

She graduated from Northern Arizona University where she was also a member of the women's swimming and diving team.

Maria grew up in the Valley and went to Ironwood High School in Glendale.

When not reporting the news, she’s hunting for the best carne asada tacos or bowl of pho, swimming laps, or hanging out with her USMC veteran husband and rescued Shih Tzu.

In addition to Facebook and Twitter, you also can find Maria at @MariaHechanovaTV on Instagram.

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