Councilmember Bry calls for audit of city water bills

In response to abnormally high water bills from the San Diego Public Utilities Department, San Diego City Councilmember Barbara Bry has called for an audit of water bill procedures and a policy change to protect ratepayers and maintain water service.

“We are hearing from San Diego residents who have complained about inexplicably high water bills and are now at risk of losing service if they do not pay their bills within the normal billing timeline. Some ratepayers have received bills that are thousands of dollars higher than what they normally pay,” Bry said in a release. “My office is committed to helping San Diego ratepayers resolve their cases and discovering the reasons for these recent water bill spikes.”

Bry’s office began receiving complaints from District 1 residents about abnormally high water bills back in November. Bry and her team began meeting with constituents and connecting them with the Public Utilities Department (PUD) to have their individual situations investigated.

“In many cases, the PUD found no leaks or clear reasons to account for the increased water usage, so we are still seeking answers as to why these hikes are occurring,” Bry said.

In order to ensure the water bills San Diegans are receiving are accurate and precise, Bry has asked City Auditor Eduardo Luna to conduct a comprehensive audit of the PUD’s data acquisitions and billing procedures.Luna has agreed to expand the scope of an already scheduled audit of the PUD’s Customer Support Division to include this additional review—the results are expected by June.

Bry has requested that the PUD not require full payment if the account holder is contesting the amount of their bill until the department completes its investigation and provides a response.

At that time, Bry said customers should be given a minimum of 30 days to pay or make arrangements for payment. If the customer still believes the billing is inaccurate, they should be allowed to delay full payment until the city auditor has completed their report.

“During this time, residents who are challenging their bills should pay an amount based on their average usage or the usage reported for that particular billing cycle during the previous year,” Bry said. “We must ensure that San Diegans retain access to water during this investigation.”

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