San Diego Water Bill Audit Finds Thousands of Errors

An audit of the San Diego utilities department sparked by outcries over high water bills found that 2,750 water bills sent to ratepayers last year were incorrect and had to be adjusted. The audit found that 10 meter readers accounted for 71 percent of the errors. One meter reader, no longer a city employee, misread approximately 343 meters in a two-month span.

The audit found that meter readers bypassed an accuracy check, and the city does not have any measures of performance for its 36 meter readers.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune: “The audit was ordered after hundreds of San Diego residents complained last year of surging water bills, in some cases two or three times the usual amount. Furious ratepayers packed public hearings earlier this year demanding answers.”

The report used a hypothetical example of how a typical error affected a typical bill. In the example, a single-family home with an average water use of 13,465 gallons would pay $141.41 when correctly read. If the meter was incorrectly read, the bill would most likely jump to $408.56. The number was calculated using the average corrected error. (Source: San Diego Union-Tribune, July 26.)

More Water Meter Problems in San Diego. The city of San Diego has spent approximately $7 million since 2010 to buy 74,000 “smart” water meters, but has put only 69,000 in the ground – and only 12,000 are hooked up to a radio system that actually makes them “smart.” This means the city has several million dollars’ worth of meters that do not work as intended, and did not streamline the system by eliminating the need for human meter readers. (Source: Voice of San Diego, August 2.)

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