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Water Customers Invited To Air Concerns At Committee Meeting

A water meter in San Carlos is shown in this photo, Feb. 25, 2018.

Photo by KPBS Staff

Above: A water meter in San Carlos is shown in this photo, Feb. 25, 2018.

City staff members are set to give an update Thursday on an investigation into residential water bill overcharges and remedial measures — three weeks after Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced that an audit of the utility's billing practices was being fast-tracked.

City officials in February discovered problems with some customers' water bills after hearing weeks of complaints. Some residents saw their charges skyrocket by as much as 400 percent due to what city officials say was one employee's misreading of meters.

RELATED: San Diego Utilities Department Director Answers Questions About Overcharged Water Bills

Faulconer last month said city staff believed the problem was limited to just 343 residents in specific north San Diego neighborhoods, but many have questioned whether billing problems extend beyond that.

Public Utilities Department staff Thursday will deliver an update to the council's Environment Committee, including an outline of all actions the department has taken to date to correct the billing problems. Committee Chairman David Alvarez has invited affected residents to testify at the meeting, which begins at 1 p.m. at the City Administration Building.

The city auditor's examination of the department's billing practices is expected to be complete by June at the latest.

Faulconer last month also directed the department to conduct its own internal "top-down" review and has empowered department Director Vic Bianes to make changes to procedures as he sees fit.

Every customer who comes to the department with a billing concern will have their bills reviewed, Faulconer said.

The city on Wednesday also announced it will hold three Saturday customer service sessions for bill review.

The first one is this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Public Utilities Department, 9192 Topaz Way. Another session will be held March 24 at that location from 9 a.m. to noon. The third session will also be held March 24 — at Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, 404 Euclid Ave., from 2 to 5 p.m.

Customers can also contact the department at (619) 515-3500, or email customercare@sandiego.gov.

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