SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The city of San Diego is expanding its probe into complaints over mysteriously high water bills by checking the 250,000-plus meters across the city.
City spokesman Jerry McCormick said the expanded investigation has already begun into both smart and manually-read water meters. The announcement comes less than a day after the city divulged that more than 300 families were overbilled by an average $300 in four neighborhoods - Carmel Valley, Rancho Bernardo, Mira Mesa and Rancho Penasquitos.
The city studied 3,000 meters in those neighborhoods, and says human error reading the older meters led to the error.
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San Diego families who had been paying monthly water bills typically between $200-$300 were reporting one-off spikes into the thousands. Many times, they said the city responded that they either had a leak or a new, more accurate meter.
However, Thursday's admission was the first of a systematic error in the billing system.
"It's the meter, it's the way the meter was installed in my home," said Denise Hornby, of Carmel Valley, who is fighting a $1,500 water bill. "I just can't get over it."
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Others are questioning how their bill has gradually increased over time.
Terri Mitchell of Oak Park said she's seen it rise each time it comes in the mail - it's now about $400, which she and her husband say they can't afford.
"We have low-flow toilets, we remodeled our bathroom, we are on a set time for the watering, like we are supposed to do," she said.
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Mitchell, who has a manually read meter, said she recently expressed concern about how much dirt was on top of it, making it difficult for city employees to get to.
McCormick said it's common for dirt to be on top of meters and that city workers have tools to get to them.
On Monday, the city auditor will officially begin its probe of the water bill department.
San Diegans can receive assistance with their water bill concerns HERE.