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City To Host Workshop For Water Customers Who Were Overcharged

Sprinklers water grass in El Cerrito in this undated photo.
Claire Trageser
Sprinklers water grass in El Cerrito in this undated photo.

The city utilities department is hosting a workshop Thursday to help out water customers who believe they were overcharged due to meter misreading.

The department announced last week that 343 customers were overcharged as much as $420 due to misreading, potentially answering questions that had left residents dumbfounded and going to local media outlets in search of answers.

Residents who think they may have been overcharged can come to the Mira Mesa Senior Center, 8460 Mira Mesa Blvd., between 5:30 and 7 p.m. Thursday. They should bring their two most recent water bills.


"This public forum will allow residents the opportunity to ask the water department questions about their bill, have their account reviewed on- site, and understand their water bill and the billing structure," said Councilmember Chris Cate.

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

The department found after an internal review there was indeed a problem related to meter reading in Carmel Valley, Mira Mesa, Rancho Bernardo and Rancho Penasquitos. Of 2,041 meters in that area, 323 were misread, which resulted in overcharges ranging from $186 to $420, city staff said at the City Council Environment Committee meeting Wednesday. They will be receiving refunds.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer last week directed the department to investigate every complaint of high water bills. The city auditor will also be completing a review of the department's billing practices by June.

The city is implementing several measures to help ensure accuracy of water bills: requiring PUD supervisors to sign off on daily reports from meter readers, adding security protocols to ensure only certain staff can input data, improving automated alerts that flag spikes in water usage, adding a second spot check review of meter reads to ensure accuracy and adding an informational insert in water bills about how customers can read their own meters, according to the mayor's office.


Other reasons why customers' bills could have increased are a 6.9 percent rate jump that took effect on Aug. 1, a one-time billing schedule change that extended the normal 60-day billing period to up to 70 days late last year, warmer months that could contribute to increased usage, and leaks in homes and irrigation systems, according to the mayor's office.