By Ryan Randazzo | Arizona Republic
After a contentious legal battle, Johnson Utilities has given control of its troubled water and wastewater operations to the EPCOR USA water company, whose executives on Friday morning walked into the Johnson headquarters to take over the management.
It is the first time Arizona utility regulators have ordered such a takeover of an operation the size of Johnson, which has about 35,000 customers in parts of Florence, Queen Creek and the San Tan Valley area.
The takeover follows a years-long history of water and wastewater problems at Johnson Utilities that prompted the Arizona Corporation Commission to order the company to cede control to EPCOR last month.
Johnson put up a spirited legal defense involving five lawsuits in multiple jurisdictions fighting the order. It still has a pending appeal, but a Pinal County Superior Court judge on Tuesday told the company anyone denying EPCOR access to facilities or financials would be arrested.