Audit: Utilities department is behind on fixing water meter issues

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego City Council's Audit Committee voted unanimously, 5-0, to send a city auditor report on the Public Utilities Department's sluggish replacement of water meter lids and boxes to the City Council.

The report, released by City Auditor Eduardo Luna's office on Aug. 31, found that the PUD fixed faulty water meter covers in more than double the amount of time the agency planned to. Only 25 percent of water meter cover boxes and lids were fixed or replaced within the agency's six month goal in fiscal year 2017. For the other 75 percent, PUD employees replaced lids in an average of 11 months and boxes in an average of roughly 20 months.

"The lack of accountability at PUD and the resulting backlog of broken water meters is an extreme disservice to taxpayers," said City Councilman and Audit Committee Vice Chair Scott Sherman. "It is evident that there is a cultural problem within PUD that must be changed. I am committed to holding them accountable and fixing this problem."

According to the report, employees only spent an average of 3.6 hours in the field and spent unnecessary amounts of time traveling to maintenance locations because of poor scheduling. Audit staff made 11 recommendations for reforms, including the enforcement of performance standards, increases of staff and additional training.

The City Council reviewed a separate audit of inaccurate water billing by PUD on Sept. 10. The agency has 90 days to update city officials on workflow improvements.