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More water customers report high bills

Posted at 11:27 PM, Apr 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-01 21:43:06-04

RANCHO BERNARDO, Calif. (KGTV) -- A Rancho Bernardo woman wants to warn her elderly neighbors to double check their water bills.

"Evey Borrelli is not part of the roughly 350 water customers who were overcharged when a now-former city employee misread hundreds of meters this past winter," but she did receive an incorrect bill in April of 2017.

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So, when Borrelli had an usually high bill in April, she immediately got on the phone with the utility.

"I just told her, two of us live in the house. We don't take showers every day. We don't run the dishwasher that often," said Borrelli. "I don't run my wash machine but once a week and she said 'yeah the numbers are way off.'"

According to the bill, usage for April was 3,500 cubic feet (HCF) at a charge of $309; but Borrelli says the actual reading was 8 HCF and a cost of $137.

"They're like, we made a mistake, but the bill says actual read, but they don't give you the actual read number. They give you the serial number of your meter.  There's a big disconnect here, especially with the trust going on right now with what was happening in December with outrageous bills that were reported," said Borrelli.

Since the errors were reported, the city issued refunds, held several town halls, set up a hotline for customers to call with concerns, and implemented a new automated testing bench designed to test meters more quickly and accurately.

Borrelli worries the mistake on her most recent bill shows the system is still flawed. She lives in a senior community and is especially worried about her elderly neighbors.

"A lot of the older people feel like they can't do anything. They just pay their bill and it's sad," said Borrelli.

She thinks one possible solution would be to include the meter reading on the bill.

"I think having the number match on the bill a couple days after they come and read it would make them feel more comfortable OK, my bill is right or let me found out if something is wrong," said Borrelli.  

A spokesman with the utility says the city is still compiling the information of customers who were overcharged and issuing refunds. 

A city auditor's investigation into exactly what led to the errors is expected to be finished in June.