By Ryan Randazzo | Arizona Republic
Arizona’s Department of Environmental Quality hit troubled water company Johnson Utilities with a massive $100 million, 57-count civil lawsuit, alleging a host of violations of water-quality laws.
The lawsuit, filed by the Attorney General’s Office on behalf of ADEQ, lists a variety of penalties for violations as well as “injunctive” actions the company needs to take to fix its utility system, which is why the dollar figure is so high.
Allegations include numerous sewer overflows and strong odors coming from a treatment plant as well as the company failing to maintain enough water in the pipes to serve customers for 14 days in 2018. It cites violations for actions such as building ponds for treated wastewater without a permit.
Johnson Utilities has about 35,000 customers in parts of Florence, Queen Creek and the San Tan Valley area.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Maricopa County Superior Court.
“Johnson Utilities has continuously failed to follow through in the normal collaborative process that ADEQ prefers to remedy non-compliance issues,” ADEQ Director Misael Cabrera said in a news release. “Johnson Utilities has left the Department with no other choice than to pursue legal action.”
Johnson Utilities has been the most-cited utility by ADEQ for the past two years, with more than 300 complaints filed, according to ADEQ. Complaints about the company represent 68 percent of all complaints filed with the department’s Water Quality Division.
A representative for Johnson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.