San Diego city workers now reading thousands of meters

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diego workers are now checking the more than 250,000 water meters across the city to make sure families are billed accurately.

The city announced earlier this month that it overcharged hundreds of families in four neighborhoods - Rancho Bernardo, Mira Mesa, Rancho Penasqutios and Carmel Valley. 

There's now a full city audit of the water billing department, and the department itself is checking the meters independently.

RELATED: San Diego to expand audit of water billing overcharges

San Diegans have complained to 10News for months about spiking water bills, with little to no help or explanation from the city. Some have even questioned whether their meter is read - given that it's often covered in dirt. 

Terri Mitchell, who lives near Oak Park, said she raised concerns to one meter reader recently over his workload.

"He says i'm going to have to dig here, I've got like 400 more meters," she said.

RELATED: Dozens of San Diegans come forward with high water bills

The city invited 10News to join one of its meter readers as he checked meters in Rancho Bernardo on Friday. The city wanted to show that there is a system in place to read the meters, since people were questioning the validity of their water bills and whether their meters are even read. 

"A lot of customers sometimes feel that since they can't see the meter, that we're not reading it," said Steven Broyles, who has read water meters for the city for 18 years.

Armed with a pick and a handheld computer, Broyles opened a handful of meter caps along Madrigal Road in Rancho Bernardo, as part of his day to read 500 meters.

RELATED: City of San Diego finds 343 water customers were overcharged

Some weren't easy to see. Broyles used the pick to scrape dirt off of one meter, and also looked closely at another that had scratches over where the numbers are visible. He recorded the numbers onto his handheld computer.

The city auditor is currently doing a top-down review of the public utilities department. Results are expected in June. 

The city terminated the employee responsible for the human error. 

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