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State files $100 million civil lawsuit against Arizona utility company

(Pixabay Photo)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office filed a $100 million civil lawsuit Wednesday against a San Tan Valley-based utility company.

Johnson Utilities LLC, which serves about 35,000 customers, has received nearly 300 complaints since 2017, making it the most cited private utility by ADEQ, according to a press release.

The state said the citations included sewer overflows, discharges without a permit, water pressure violations and offensive odors.

According to the lawsuit, the company has poured tens of thousands of gallons of untreated or partially treated sewage into Queen Creek and other places, creating a danger to public health.

“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 the release.

“Johnson Utilities has left the department with no other choice than to pursue legal action.”

ADEQ officials said the company has accounted for 68% of the total complaints received by its Water Quality Division since 2017.

The maximum fines for the company’s violations ranged from $500 to $25,000 per day, according to the release.

Johnson Utilities has been the subject of scrutiny in Arizona for several years over rate increases and water quality.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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