San Diego's Audit Of Water Bills Delayed
The city of San Diego audit that is meant to answer why some customers were overcharged hundreds of dollars on their water bills has been delayed.
City Auditor Eduardo Luna announced in his May report that the audit, which was originally supposed to be published at the beginning of June, will instead come in July. The audit has already taken more than the 2,000 budgeted hours of work, according to the report.
Luna said by email to KPBS that the main reason for the delay is that it took longer than expected to obtain the necessary billing data.
"We made the initial data request on February 14, 2018, but we didn’t receive the full data set until April 30, 2018," he said.
"The delay was not attributable to a lack of cooperation from (Public Utilities Department) staff," he added. "Rather, the delay in obtaining the billing data was primarily driven by the difficulty in locating the billing data in the system and creating the necessary scripts to extract the billing data from the system. Once we received initial test billing reports, we needed to validate the information to ensure accuracy and completeness."
In February, Councilwoman Barbara Bry asked Luna to take on the mystery of high water bills.
She asked after hearing from constituents and seeing media reports of residents with extremely high bills: KPBS reported on a Normal Heights resident who was told he owed $3,800, a San Carlos resident told The San Diego Union-Tribune she received a bill for $3,334 and NBC San Diego reported on a Pacific Beach woman who got a bill for double her normal amount.
Luna told KPBS his office was looking at multiple explanations for the high bills, including human error, computer error, water leaks and high water use. He said there may not be just one answer, but that some chunk of high bills may be caused by one factor and another chunk by another factor.
Earlier this year, the head of the Public Utilities Department said one employee was to blame for overcharging more than 340 customers in Rancho Bernardo, Carmel Valley, Rancho Penasquitos, and Mira Mesa on their water bills. Those customers were scheduled to get refunds or credits for the overpayment.