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QUEEN CREEK — EPCOR Water officials continue to work on an agreement to provide additional water capacity to northern Pinal County.

On Tuesday, the Arizona Corporation Commission heard an update from EPCOR officials detailing the company’s progress as interim manager for Johnson Utilities, the private water and wastewater company that services users in San Tan Valley. 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.

However, Day said, the two sides still had two major hurdles to overcome before an agreement could be reached. First, he said, the town was asking for a $545,000 deposit before an agreement could be finalized. Second, the town sought a guaranteed monthly minimum of 20,000 gallons of water usage.

Day said EPCOR couldn’t guarantee that amount of water being used in the winter, leading to the continued talks.

He said both sides remained confident an agreement could be reached before the summer months.

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.

Just days earlier, Johnson Utilities LLC sent a news release of its own accusing town officials of using the possible interconnection as a “backdoor” to annexing San Tan Valley.

Constance Halonen-Wilson, a spokeswoman for the town, told PinalCentral that while the town does have a mechanism in place to consider annexations, it has “no intention of annexing San Tan Valley.”

“Over the years, the town has been approached by several residents/neighborhoods within San Tan Valley regarding annexation. Of those requests, the town has only received a couple of completed applications for annexation,” she said. “For the town to consider approving annexations, the applicant must get more than 50 percent of property owners and property valuation to sign in favor of the annexation.”

On Tuesday, commissioners expressed frustration over the amount of time it has taken for discussions on the interconnection, but a representative for the town said the infrastructure is in place to offer the connection immediately.

An interconnection agreement would allow Queen Creek to provide water to Johnson Utilities’ customers for the duration of the interim management agreement, which is only in place for three years, and is planned to end in 2021.

EPCOR also offered the following updates on Johnson service:

  • Water pressure issues have been leveling out and steady pressures are returning to customers
  • Johnson and EPCOR continue to work toward opening wells that will add additional capacity for existing customers
  • Sanitary sewer overflows have slowed and replacement pumps are being installed
  • EPCOR continues to adhere to a meter management program set forth by the ACC limiting water and wastewater hookups, but Day said EPCOR would look to have the ACC amend the order soon.