Water meter
Old-style water meter. Image via YouTube.com

City staff members are set to give an update on the investigation and remediation of residential water bill overcharges at a City Council committee meeting Thursday, three weeks after Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced that an audit of the utility’s billing practices was being fast- tracked.

City officials in February discovered problems with some customers’ water bills after hearing weeks of complaints. Some residents saw their charges skyrocket by as much as 400 percent due to what city officials say was one employee’s misreading of meters.

Faulconer last month said city staff believed the problem was limited to just 343 residents in specific north San Diego neighborhoods, but many have questioned whether billing problems extend beyond that.

Public Utilities Department staff on Thursday will deliver an update to the council’s Environment Committee, including an outline of all actions the department has taken to date to correct the billing problems.

Committee Chairman David Alvarez has also invited affected residents to testify to the committee.

The city auditor’s examination of the department’s billing practices is expected to be complete by June at the latest.

Faulconer last month also directed the department to conduct its own internal “top-down” review and has empowered department Director Vic Bianes to make changes to procedures as he sees fit.

Every customer who comes to the department with a billing concern will have their bills reviewed, Faulconer said.

The city on Wednesday also announced it will hold three Saturday customer service sessions for bill review.

The first one is this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Public Utilities Department, 9192 Topaz Way. Another session will be held March 24 at that location from 9 a.m. to noon.

The third session will also be held March 24 at Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, 404 Euclid Ave., from 2 to 5 p.m.

Customers can also contact the department at (619) 515-3500, or email customercare@sandiego.gov.

–City News Service