Fire hydrants in parts of San Tan Valley affected by water pressure woes

Water woes in parts of the far East Valley seem to be worsening. People have been dealing with extremely low water pressure for months, and now, a Pima County official is warning residents about fire hydrants in some of the communities served by Johnson Utilities.

Firefighters from Rural Metro went around San Tan Valley to test random hydrants, and officials said none of the hydrants they tested this week meet international fire code standards.

Ideally, Rural Metro officials say the pounds-per-square-inch (PSI) measurement of water coming out of a fire hydrant should be between 70 and 100. Below that, it could take firefighters "longer than average" to put out a fire.

"Otherwise they have to bring their own water supply in, make sure they got the tankers, make sure they got the volume of water and enough pressure so they can actually fight the fires," said Pinal County Supervisor Mike Goodman.

Goodman was at the Sate Capitol Tuesday to raise awareness about the dangerously low water supply.

"I've been at ADEQ (Arizona Department of Environmental Quality)," said Goodman. "I've been at Arizona Corporation Commission and even contacted the Governor's Office."

The ACC has opened three investigations into Johnson Utilities, because of poor water quality, outages, and pressure issues. The ACC wants to appoint an interim manager, someone with more experience and technical expertise, to run the utility company. A judge is currently reviewing that request.

Goodman says local and state government agencies need to do a better job of monitoring Johnson Utilities, and make better decisions about the supply, delivery, and quality of water in the San Tan Valley.

"Johnson Utilities' approach to all of this to shut a valve over here to give you more water pressure over here," said Goodman. "I look at whats happening right now, did they take preventative measures to keep us from where we are right now? My answer is no."

FOX 10 has contacted Johnson Utilities several times, but our calls were not returned. Meanwhile, there is a hearing set for July 16 on the water outage problems. The hearing, which will take place at the ACC offices in Downtown Phoenix, will be open to public comment.

Arizona Corporation Commission document on Johnson Utilities water outages (PDF File)