SAN TAN VALLEY — A proposal from the town of Queen Creek to provide water to homes in San Tan Valley has been met with mockery from the company that currently services the area.
In a press release sent to PinalCentral on Friday, the utility labeled negotiations between the town and EPCOR Water, the company tasked as interim manager of Johnson Utilities, as a game of “You go first. No, you go first” that produced no answers from Queen Creek.
On Tuesday, the Arizona Corporation Commission heard an update from EPCOR officials detailing the company’s progress as interim manager for Johnson Utilities. One of the key concerns since the company has taken over has been whether the water system is ready for peak summer demand.
Troy Day, vice president of operations for EPCOR, said representatives for both EPCOR and the town of Queen Creek continue to work toward an interconnection agreement that would provide additional water capacity to existing JU customers.
Last week, Queen Creek released a statement announcing the town “offers a regional solution to possible water shortage,” regarding a possible interconnection agreement; however, it did not provide many specifics of the interconnection.
Johnson Utilities’ press release raised questions about how the town plans on accommodating such an increased load. It cited statistics as of 2017 that Queen Creek manages 27,000 active connections with water drawn from 14 wells. To make the interconnection work, the release claimed, the town would have to add 27,700 connections to its system, more than doubling it.
Meanwhile, the utility does not see the need for these interconnections to take place at all. It claims to already have 27 wells set up, with seven more scheduled to go online this year.
The release also notes that Queen Creek does not have a 100-year water supply designation from the Arizona Department of Water Resources as Johnson does and thus cannot be seen as a reliable alternative to Johnson’s already-existing infrastructure.
“The question must be asked,” the release stated, “does Queen Creek have the capacity to provide water to another utility when it doesn’t have the 100-year water supply for its own future growth?”