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San Diego Makes Progress On Preventing Sky-High Water Bills

A water meter in the ground is shown at a home in Normal Heights, Dec. 24, 2017

Credit: Scott Templeton

Above: A water meter in the ground is shown at a home in Normal Heights, Dec. 24, 2017

More than a year after some San Diego residents received incorrect water bills for hundreds and even thousands of dollars more than usual, the city's Public Utilities Department said it is making progress on preventing future problems.

On Wednesday, the department told the city council's Audit Committee that it has completed 80 percent of the improvements recommended by the city auditor. Those improvements include flagging irregularly high bills before they go out to customers, developing standards and criteria for employee performance and looking into more efficient routes for the crews who assess the water meters.

"In terms of bills going out the number of misreads as far as higher bills, has been reduced and any that we see that come to our attention immediately we're making sure that we're addressing those timely," said Johnnie Perkins, deputy COO for Infrastructure and Public Works.

RELATED: San Diego Officials Looking To Solve Mystery Of High Water Bills

The auditor's office found more than 2,000 San Diego residents received incorrect water bills, along with a backlog of 25,000 broken water meter boxes and lids.

Leaders of the union representing the workers who fix water meters said the improvements are a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done.

"We don't have the current city staff to facilitate the backlog, but moving forward with the five to six hundred calls that come in per month—and then an additional 125 with Get It Done (app)—is to equip our people, city staff with boots on the ground," said Rodney Fowler Sr., president of the Local 127.

"That means more employees, modernizing the vehicles and equipment and give the crews the utilities that they need."

The Public Utilities Department is looking into hiring private contractors to alleviate the backlog of broken water meter boxes. The department said it is on track to have all recommendations completed by the end of the fiscal year.

San Diego's Public Utilities Department says it has made progress in correcting problems that led to sky-high water bills last year.

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