Johnson Utilities corrosion

An anonymous study of Johnson Utilities’ Pecan Creek wastewater treatment plant in 2015 showed corrosion that was reported to have taken place due to high levels of hydrogen sulfide.

SAN TAN VALLEY — A wastewater treatment plant operated by Johnson Utilities that has come into focus the past year after a long period of apparent neglect has malfunctioned, and now nearby residents in Queen Creek and San Tan Valley are being told to avoid contact with the water.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality announced Friday that recycled water had been discharged from the Pecan Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant on 38539 N. Gantzel Road in San Tan Valley. The water, according to ADEQ, is treated but not to the level required for surface water appropriate for full or partial body contact.

Therefore, ADEQ has issued a water quality advisory for the area and warned people to keep themselves and pets away from the water, as they can be at risk of infection from microorganisms associated with human waste. Typically, the water is only used for irrigation purposes, such as on agricultural land or golf courses.

If people or pets come into contact with this water, they are advised to thoroughly wash the possibly infected areas with soap as soon as possible. If there are any symptoms resulting from the contact, such as vomiting or diarrhea, contact a medical professional.

The advisory will be lifted when the discharge is stopped, and ADEQ will issue another advisory when that is done.

The discharge is a result of the Pecan Creek plant exceeding its capacity, with a high volume that might be caused by the rise in population from winter residents.

However, the plant has faced intense scrutiny over the past year in the wake of the state-ordered management takeover of Johnson Utilities by EPCOR Water. A report presented to the Arizona Corporation Commission in August showed significant corrosion in the plant, with EPCOR warning that the chemicals resulting from the neglect could pose a significant threat to public safety.