PUD Director: "We're investigating all issues"

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The head of the City of San Diego’s Public Utility Department is promising accountability to make sure customers have accurate water bills.

In an interview with Team 10 investigator Adam Racusin, Vic Bianes said the department is investigating all issues.

He said the situation where more than 300 people were overcharged for their bills is not normal.

“We have human error where people enter in the meter reads and that may have caused what happened here,” Bianes said.

As of Thursday afternoon, the city employee at the center of the controversy was no longer employed by the city.

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

“We believe this is a one-time read issue,” he said. 

Team 10 investigator Adam Racusin asked Bianes, if that’s something the city can guarantee.

“We go back out and actually read the next billing cycle so we have the ability to match up what's in the previous read against what we currently pick up,” he said.

While the billing issue was confined to a few specific areas, Bianes said they will be investigating all complaints to make sure customer's bills are accurate.

The department is also requiring PUD supervisors to personally sign off on daily reports from meter readers, Adding a second spot check review of meter reads to ensure accuracy, and improving automated alerts that flag unusual spikes in water usage among other changes.

Team 10 asked Bianes how confident he is that there are no other issues throughout the city.

"I'm very confident that in this particular case there's no other issues,’” he said. “But again, as we do the monthly billings here this month we'll have the ability to true that up. There may be situations where we have other issues and we'll resolve that with the customer.”

According to the city, the review also found other factors have contributed to higher water bills for customers not affected by the isolated misreads, most notably a citywide rate increase of 6.9 percent that the City Council approved in 2015 [sandiego.gov] and took effect August 2017.

They include leaks in homes and irrigation systems, warmer temperature and dry conditions leading to increased water use, and new landscaping or pool installations.

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