War over drinking water continues in San Tan Valley

by Jon Erickson, originally posted on June 9, 2016


SAN TAN VALLEY, AZ – A new front has opened in the battle for ready access to water for parts of San Tan Valley.

Community advocate Nick Myers filed a complaint with state regulators this week against Johnson Utilities.

The issue is availability of water, especially from a standpipe, which is a roadside pipe used to fill portable tanks with water. Residents take those tanks home and use the water for drinking, showering, and watering their animals.

Johnson Utilities shut down their San Tan Valley standpipe, at Edwards and Magma roads, last July, according to Arizona Corporation Commission documents. Myers estimates that 200 people relied on the standpipe for water.

Myers filed the complaint this week with the short-term goal of having the standpipe service restored and the long-term goal of seeing water mains connected to homes that now rely on wells or outdoor storage tanks.

The nearest standpipes to San Tan Valley are in Florence or Apache Junction.

John Dixon now trucks approximately 50 miles round-trip to Florence for standpipe water; his previous travel distance was just five miles.

“I just try not to get frustrated because I’m going through heart failure,” Dixon said.

Johnson Utilities Chief Operating Officer Brad Cole told state regulators last year that the utility’s goal is to install water mains that serve the customers affected by the lack of standpipe service.

But Cole, according to a letter filed with regulators, told a property owner on West Ivar Road that not enough residents had signed up for piped water service and the rest of the utility’s customers could not continue to subsidize installations.

Repeated calls to Johnson Utilities were not returned.

The company has not filed a response to Myers’ complaint.

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