Residents sound off over skyrocketing water bills

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SAN DIEGO -- San Diego residents packed a meeting with the San Diego Public Utilities Department Thursday night in Del Cerro to voice their concerns about spikes in their water bills.

Sue Braun said in February, her water bill was just over $200, while her latest bill jumped to more than $1,000 dollars.

Braun said she can't make sense of it because she and her husband haven't done anything differently and made sure they don't have a leak. After examining several of her water bills, she noticed a gradual increase and decided to check in with her neighbors to see if they were experiencing the same thing.

“I got a flood of responses. Maybe 100. People kept telling me about their water bill and the conversation started,” Braun said.

The public utility department acknowledged it has seen an uptick in concerns about higher than normal water bills in several neighborhoods.

City officials said they have been investigating, but have not found any one issue that has caused bills to go up. Officials said they will be looking at each individual case.

“As we look at individual accounts, if we identify a problem that might be something that’s related to a system or the way we do business, then we get to the bottom of that, identify what changes we need to make and take whatever corrective action is necessary to make sure it doesn’t continue,” said Michael Vogl, deputy director for the public utilities department.

Vogl said a contributing factor could be a one-time adjustment made to the billing schedule at the end of the year, in which the cycle was extended from about 60 days to around 70.

Braun is glad their concerns are being looked into and hopes officials will reach a solution soon.

“We can’t be paying this kind of money. It’s too much," Braun said. "People on fixed incomes can’t do this -- really and truly, they can't."

The public utility department was asked to provide a report of their findings when they finish looking into individual cases.

City officials said they offer programs to people struggling to pay their water bill.

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