ADEQ seeking penalties and injunctive relief in excess of $100 million from Johnson Utilities

A screenshot of the civil suit filing at superiorcourt.maricopa.gov.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office on May 22 filed a civil case in Arizona Superior Court against Johnson Utilities LLC seeking penalties and injunctive relief in excess of $100 million.

“This case is about bringing relief to the San Tan Community from the negative impacts to residents, businesses and economic development for years by Johnson Utilities,” according to a release from ADEQ.  

Misael Cabrera

“Johnson Utilities has continuously failed to follow through in the normal collaborative process that ADEQ prefers to remedy non-compliance issues,” Misael Cabrera, ADEQ director, said in the release. “Johnson Utilities has left the department with no other choice than to pursue legal action.”

Since 2017, Johnson Utilities is the most cited private utility by ADEQ, the release states.

In that time frame, ADEQ also received nearly 300 complaints from community members about Johnson Utilities, accounting for 68% of the total complaints received by the water quality division, it states.

The civil case is based on the statutory maximum fines for 57 counts listed in the complaint, which include:

  • Sanitary sewer overflows
  • Discharges without a permit
  • Overtopping of impoundments
  • Monitoring and reporting violations
  • Water pressure violations
  • Unauthorized modifications
  • Offensive odor

The statutory maximum fines range from $500 to $25,000 per day, per violation. ADEQ is requesting injunctive relief for ongoing violations.

Documents related to the case can be found in Arizona Superior Court, Case No. CV2019-007646. Go to superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/docket/index.asp.

Under the Environmental Quality Act of 1986, the Arizona State Legislature established the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality in 1987 as the state agency for protecting and enhancing public health and the environment of Arizona. Go to azdeq.gov.

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