Dozens come forward with high water bills

Posted at 5:37 PM, Jan 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-03 18:55:14-05

More San Diegans are coming forward with outrageously high water bills that in some cases are more than $1,000.

But they say the city is brushing off their concerns.

Now, they have a new strategy to get different answers to their expensive questions.

"It's too hard, sometimes, to fight it," said Joyce Abrams, a La Jolla resident whose last three water bills doubled to nearly $500 each. "You can't not pay because then they turn your water off."

Abrams says she's convinced she doesn't have a leak, and has complained to the city in the past. But she grew frustrated when she said she got the same answer every time - Either the city would test the meter, or have someone come out and teach her ways to save water.

10News has covered mysteriously high water bills in areas from Scripps Ranch to Normal Heights to Webster. 

Michael Vogl, the city's water billing manager, said in September that many leaks are not obvious, and that he stood by the accuracy of the new meters going into many homes.

"They're tested, they go through an extensive quality control process," he said. 

But Abrams thinks the billing is simply inaccurate, and she felt she wasn't alone. That's why she took a chance and reserved a room at the La Jolla library, asking anyone outraged at their water bill on social media to come down and strategize.

"I was worried I'd be sitting here by myself," she said. 

But nearly 30 people came, sharing stories of sticker shock. They discussed ways to get more attention from the city. A staffer from Councilwoman Barbara Bry's office even attended. Bry's office said in a statement it would work with public utilities department to address the concerns.

The city says residents may have recently noticed a higher bill because of a one-time longer billing period, so it could normalize its statement schedule. You can arrange for a city inspector to visit your home and test for leaks for free