Johnson Utilities Sign

Johnson Utilities might not be in compliance with the franchise agreement it has with Pinal County.

SAN TAN VALLEY — Pinal County has put Johnson Utilities on notice that the San Tan Valley utility company needs to take better care of its infrastructure.

In a letter sent to Brad Cole, Johnson Utilities’ chief operating officer, Deputy County Attorney Kevin Costello outlined what he called “multiple incidents of damages” caused by the company’s facilities to the county rights of way. Specifically, he references issues with the sewage lines that have failed, causing damage to the surrounding area.

Costello provided a list of all the failures that have taken place on the county’s rights of way as determined by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. That list was not provided to PinalCentral by press time.

“Incidents such as those included in the attached list of sewer failures indicate that Johnson Utilities facilities within County right-of-way are not adequate, efficient, substantial and permanent,” Costello wrote, “nor located, erected and maintained so as not to interfere with the use and enjoyment of the public streets etc.”

Johnson Utilities did not respond to PinalCentral’s request for comment by press time.

The letter raised the issue of the franchise agreement the county issued to Johnson Utilities in 1995 and amended in 2006. That agreement states that the company’s facilities must maintain adequacy, efficiency and permanency in order to operate on the county’s rights of way. By not meeting that goal, the company therefore is not being compliant with the agreement, which could have big consequences down the road.

The letter lists a series of actions Johnson Utilities can take to become compliant with the franchise agreement:

  • Submit certified as-built plans in electronic format for all of its facilities within Pinal County rights of way within 30 days of receipt of the letter
  • Inspect 20 percent of the sewer gravity system by the end of 2017 and each fiscal year thereafter with closed circuit camera equipment to assess infrastructure condition and identify problem areas that require repair
  • Immediately respond and take action to remove blockages in the sanitary sewer system as to protect the health and safety of the public and county rights of way by preventing sewage overflows
  • Immediately respond to repair damaged sanitary sewer infrastructure, such as sewer pipelines, sewer manholes, lift station pumps, force main pipelines and air release valves
  • Perform sanitary sewer manhole inspections annually according to infrastructure lifespan standards and then rehabilitate manhole structures requiring attention based on the results of a condition-based assessment inspection
  • Perform daily facility and infrastructure site inspections at every wastewater lift station and perform quarterly lift station pump preventative maintenance service
  • Immediately respond and repair damaged reclaimed water distribution system infrastructure, such as pipelines, valves, meters, pumps, monitoring wells and recovery wells

“Pinal County would like to work cooperatively with Johnson Utilities to address the system failures which have damaged County right-of-way and endangered public safety and welfare and ensure compliance with the Franchise Agreement moving forward,” the letter concluded.

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