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PHOENIX — The state is suing an embattled Pinal County utility for more than $100 million for what it says have been numerous environmental mishaps and violations over the years.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office filed the civil case Wednesday in Maricopa County Superior Court against Johnson Utilities LLC, seeking penalties and injunctive relief in excess of $100 million.

The case is about bringing relief to San Tan Valley from the negative impacts to residents, businesses and economic development for years by Johnson Utilities, ADEQ said in a press release issued Thursday.

“Johnson Utilities has continuously failed to follow through in the normal collaborative process that ADEQ prefers to remedy non-compliance issues,” said ADEQ Director Misael Cabrera. “Johnson Utilities has left the department with no other choice than to pursue legal action.”

The Associated Press did not receive a response to an email send to Johnson Utilities.

Since 2017, Johnson Utilities is the most cited private utility by ADEQ. In that time frame, ADEQ also received nearly 300 complaints from community members about Johnson Utilities, accounting for 68 percent of the total complaints received by the Water Quality Division.

The civil case is based on the statutory maximum fines for 57 counts listed in the complaint, which include:

  • Sanitary sewer overflows
  • Discharges without a permit
  • Overtopping of impoundments
  • Monitoring and reporting violations
  • Water pressure violations
  • Unauthorized modifications
  • Offensive odor

According to the Attorney General’s Office, the statutory maximum fines range from $500 to $25,000 per day, per violation. ADEQ is requesting injunctive relief for ongoing violations.

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