SAN TAN VALLEY — Large portions of San Tan Valley in the Johnson Utilities service area have been hit with low water pressure this week.
Many residents were reporting pressure so low that they cannot shower or run dishwashers. Eduprize charter school in Queen Creek sent out a notice stating that on Friday water pressure was so low staff had to manually flush toilets and provide students with bottled water.
The pressure was affecting the areas of Copper Basin, Johnson Ranch, Oasis Magic Ranch and Rancho Bella Vista South.
The Arizona Corporation Commission has begun investigating the low water pressure and stated in a press release that it is demanding answers from the company to confirm the source of the problem. Commission staffers plan to test pressure themselves to ensure compliance.
“Since being appointed to the commission seven months ago, I have been shocked by the number of times things have gone wrong at this utility,” said Commissioner Justin Olson. “It is unacceptable that Johnson Utilities customers are forced to once again suffer from the utility’s failure to provide reliable public services.”
Johnson Utilities posted a notice to its website that a key well motor failed, resulting in a well going offline and that the company expected the issue to be resolved within 24 hours. It also added a list of handy water conservation tips for residents and wrote that it is working 24/7 to resolve the problem.
This comes after the conclusion of evidentiary hearings of the Arizona Corporation Commission under which the commission is considering appointing an interim manager to the utility. Queen Creek Utilities Director Paul Gardner predicted in his testimony that the utility would have problems with water pressure when meeting peak demand in the summer because the system does not have enough capacity.
According to his testimony, the utility had only about 24,000 gallons of extra water in the system last summer, which he described as a very thin margin. The company will not complete the necessary infrastructure improvements to add more capacity to the system until after the summer, though it has stated that it has several in the works, including a transmission main line to transport water from new wells.
Several large construction projects in San Tan Valley exert a heavy demand on the water system, pulling water from hydrants to use on the projects. Also, some wells had to be taken out of use by the company due to unexpected changes in water quality and nitrate levels in the last year, further straining the system’s capacity.