City of San Diego finds 343 water customers were overcharged

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- After an internal review, the City of San Diego found that more than 300 customers were overcharged for water usage.

In total, city officials say 343 people were overcharged for water. 

The city’s Public Utilities Department says water meters in concentrated areas were misread, leading to the higher-than-normal bills.

RELATED: City of San Diego responds to high bill complaints, stands by its water meter

Neighborhoods with meters that were misread include Carmel Valley, Mira Mesa, Rancho Bernardo and Rancho Peñasquitos.

The city says the average overcharge for affected single-family residential customers was $303. Some residents saw higher or lower bills depending on usage.

The department says in light of the overcharging, new accountability measures are being implemented.

RELATED: Dozens come forward with high water bills

The city also says every meter in the city will be read with the new oversight procedures to ensure accuracy.

“Every bill must be accurate and anything less is unacceptable. San Diegans need to be able to trust that their bills are correct – and that every cent they pay goes to making sure we have safe, reliable water,” said Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer. “I have directed staff to take the necessary steps to ensure that nobody pays more than they should, meters are properly read, and any mistakes are corrected immediately.”

Affected customers will receive letters within the coming week informing them of the correction for the November-December billing period, the city said in a news release. 

RELATED: City working with customers to review, address water bill concerns

The city says it will be implementing the following actions:

  • Requiring PUD supervisors to personally sign off on daily reports from meter readers

  • Adding security protocols to ensure that only designated staff have ability to input data
  • Improving automated alerts that flag unusual spikes in water usage
  • Adding a second spot check review of meter reads to ensure accuracy
  • Participating in the independent City Auditor’s audit of customer billing issues
  • Including an informational insert in water bills on how customers can read their own meters and track their water use

“The Mayor has given me free reign to do what it takes to ensure the accuracy of bills for our customers,” said Vic Bianes, the City’s PUD Director. “Our internal review has determined this appears to be an isolated incident that is limited in scope. We are working diligently so that no customer is overcharged and implementing new oversight measures to make sure we’re providing the highest level of customer service.”

Previously, the city stood by its new water meters despite resident complaining of high bills.

"I am absolutely confident that these meters are reading accurately," Michael Vogl, the city's public utilities deputy director, who oversees water billing said in September of 2017.

Those with concerns are asked to contact the city by emailing customercare@sandiego.gov or by calling 619-515-3500.

Below are the areas where customers were overcharged for their water bills:

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