Johnson Utilities: Water warning is suspended - FOX Carolina 21


Johnson Utilities: Water warning is suspended

Posted: Updated: Dec 31, 2012 07:15 PM MST
© CBS 5 © CBS 5

Johnson Utilities announced Monday that it has suspended its drinking water warning previously issued for certain customers in the San Tan Valley.

The company had issued the warning Saturday specifically for customers with infants under 6 months old in the San Tan Heights Subdivision and the Skyline Subdivision west of Gary Road and south of Skyline Drive.

In a statement released Monday, the company stated:

"The warning was issued based on laboratory results that reported two wells to have exceeded the 10 parts per million (ppm) standard for nitrates. Major sources of nitrate in drinking water include the erosion of natural deposits and agricultural fertilizer use.

"Because Johnson Utilities monitors all of its wells in accordance with ADEQ standards, the two impacted wells were turned off on December 28, 2012, and more samples were taken. Water with nitrate levels below the standard was diverted to the impacted subdivisions."

CBS 5 had called Johnson Utilities several times over the past two days. No one ever responded to our messages or emails about the contaminated water. On Sunday, CBS 5 drove to the company's office in the San Tan Valley and couldn't find anyone to speak on camera.

After talking with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality CBS 5 News now knows more information about when the water test results could have been released to the public.  

An ADEQ representative said Johnson Utilities submitted a federally mandated annual nitrate test on Dec. 17. ADEQ also said those results were emailed back to the utility on the 22nd, but the representative says Johnson Utilities did not process the email until five days later on Dec. 27.

It wasn't until Saturday the 29th that CBS 5 News heard from a viewer that the company notified residents of the problem.

A company is required to alert the public of water problems as soon as possible and within 24 hours, according to the ADEQ, and they are now investigating Johnson Utility for possibly not contacting the public soon enough.

Residents in the area said they were not satisfied with the company's delay on information the public.

"I don't have a lot of confidence in being able to get accurate information so I just buy the bottled water and we'll try to keep our ear to the ground and see what happens," said Larry Keim.

"Disappointed, concerned obviously. Like I said, that's putting it nicely," said the father of a 6-month-old baby, Manuel Serrata.

Johnson Utilities said Monday that the two contaminated wells were turned off.

The ADEQ said water to the previously contaminated areas is now coming from a different source.

This was the second time Johnson Utilities, L.L.C. has been the source of controversy for contaminated drinking water. In August, the company alerted its customers of a possible E. coli contamination. The company later released a statement that said E. coli was not detected during a retesting process, but that one sample tested positive for coliform.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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