News Feature | June 23, 2016

Standpipe Fight In Arizona Illustrates Availability Issues

Dominique 'Peak' Johnson

By Peak Johnson

santan.reg.jpg

The battle for available access to water is brewing in San Tan Valley, AZ, as a community advocate recently filed a complaint with state regulators against Johnson Utilities.

The issue revolved around the availability of water, especially from standpipes which are roadside pipes used to fill portable tanks of water, according to ABC15.

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 last July, according to Arizona Corporation Commission documents.

The nearest standpipes to San Tan Valley are in Florence or Apache Junction. The advocate, Nick Myers, estimated that around 200 people from San Tan rely on the standpipe for water. The short term goal for Myers is to ultimately have the service restored.

According to ABC15, Johnson Utilities Chief Operating Officer Brad Cole told state regulators last year that the utility’s goal is to install water mains that serve customers who are affected by the lack of standpipe service.

However, according to a letter filed with regulators, Cold 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.

Just last year, Johnson Utilities and a spokesperson with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality confirmed there was a problem with San Tan Valley’s drinking water.

Johnson Utilities had started testing for bacteria in August of last year. It was not until later that it discovered E. coli in the waters.

Azfamily.com had reported that about 50,000 people and 20,000 homes had been affected.

"It was confirmed that E. coli was present in the water system from samples that were collected from the 16th of this month," John Calkins, a manger with ADEQ, said at the time of the incident.

Image credit: "Welcome to San Tan Valley Arizona," Jarl Kubat  © 2010, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/