Epcor, the interim manager for Johnson Utilities is applying for an AZPDES permit to allow A+ effluent to be discharged into the Queen Creek wash. After the rain last week, the current effluent users are not able to take any more water and the basins are full.
In addition, Epcor is putting additional piping into the ground that will allow additional treated water to go to farmland use. ADEQ was notified of the controlled discharged and per protocol, since the permit has not yet been issued, sent out an advisory of the "unpermitted" discharge on January 11, 2019.
"The water being discharged into the Queen Creek wash is A+ effluent which is the same effluent used on golf courses everywhere", said Troy Day, Vice President Of Engineering and Commercial Services at EPCOR. "There is no environmental or health hazard to the discharge."
The controlled discharge occurred from the Pecan Water Reclamation Plant located at 38539 N Gantzel Rd in San Tan Valley.
EPCOR was appointed by the Arizona Corporation Commission as the interim manager for Johnson Utilities in August 2018. EPCOR is working to manage flows.
UPDATED: Release from Epcor re: discharge
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The Johnson Utilities Pecan treatment plant collects and treats wastewater to an A+ effluent standard consistent with irrigation water used by golf courses, public parks and other similar uses across Arizona. Once the treatment process is completed, the A+ effluent water is delivered to users or recharged using onsite recharge and basins.
EPCOR became Interim Manager of Johnson Utilities on August 31, 2018. As EPCOR has previously stated and as has been confirmed by an October 2018 engineering analysis, the Pecan wastewater treatment facility is in critical need of infrastructure improvements and is at and, at times, over capacity. EPCOR has been working since last fall to find additional uses for the extra fully treated effluent this plant produces, and has notified ADEQ that a discharge permit application for this plant is in process.
Earlier this week, EPCOR notified ADEQ that because the onsite basins were full and current users did not have any additional capacity, some of the effluent would need to be discharged to Queen Creek wash beginning Wednesday, January 9. Permit-required water sampling confirmed that there was no adverse impact to public or environmental health. ADEQ was notified in advance of the discharge.
ADEQ issued a public notice about the discharge on January 11, 2019, consistent with its responsibility to protect public health. However, it is important to note that the effluent was tested prior to ADEQ’s January 11, 2019 news release and met public health requirements for A+ treated effluent. This fully treated water is the same water that is routinely used by golf courses and other public areas. In addition, the release incorrectly stated that this discharge was related to prior sewer overflows. It is not – recent rains caused higher than usual effluent levels.