While the San Diego City Auditor is investigating a spike in billing complaints from earlier this year, the Public Utilities Department said they would re-read every water meter citywide by Tuesday, April 10.
NBC 7 Responds has been covering water billing problems in the city for months. Some homeowners have voiced frustration and doubt over whether the city’s workers had been reading their meters or just estimating their bills.
In February, NBC 7 Responds discovered one homeowner’s water meter in Tierrasanta not working at all. According to data on all water meter repairs and replacements, requested by NBC 7 Responds, the home’s water meter had been labeled as replaced in 2015 under the city’s new smart water meter program.
At a City Council Environmental Committee Hearing on March 8, City Council Member Chris Cate asked representatives from the Public Utilities Department about the promise to re-read water meters.
“The Mayor made a commitment to re-read all of the [water] meters, what is the status of that?” Cate said.
“By April 10th, all meter reads will be done,” Public Utilities Department Director Vic Bianes said. “We will then take that information and review it.”
On Tuesday, NBC 7 Responds asked the Public Utilities Department if they met their commitment and inspected every water meter.
In an email, Arian Collins, Senior Public Information Officer for the city of San Diego said. “As of April 10, 2018, the Public Utilities staff read 279,947 of the 280,519 meters in our system, which equates to 99.80 percent completion.”
For the 572 meters that have not been re-read, Collins said most were due to access issues including blocked meter boxes from landscaping, parked cars, bee hives or meters located in canyons.
On April 10, NBC 7 Responds went back to the Tierrasanta home where the meter is located on the street corner with easy access but found the meter is still not working.
“The planned schedule is to resolve the access challenges as quickly as possible,” Collins said, “The Department has a plan in place to be completed by the end of May.”
The Public Utilities Department said customers will be notified if their water meter has been re-read by door hangers explaining what the worker found on their visit.