Jul 13, 2018
Beginning last summer, hundreds of water customers started seeing unexpected spikes in their water bills. Many of them contacted the city and media outlets to complain.
How the city's water department has responded to those customers' concerns, and what might be behind those unusually big bills is the subject of a new joint VOSD and NBC 7 investigation.
On this week's podcast, Voice of San Diego's Ry Rivard joins hosts Andrew Keatts, Sara Libby and Scott Lewis to talk about what he learned through an analysis of water department billing records and a look at the new smart water meters the city is using.
While the cause of many of the water bill spikes still remains murky, what's become clear is that the city water department has downplayed the problems, dodged its oversight board and resisted public records requests and transparency, especially when it comes to the smart meter program.
The San Diego water department's handling of the issues stands in stark contrast to how Padre Dam Municipal Water District, which serves some East County communities, has dealt with problems with its smart meters.
"In remarkable contrast to the opacity of the city [of San Diego's] water department, when we called them and said, 'Hey, looks like you've been having problems with these smart meters,' the general manager there said, 'Yeah, we can talk to you about it,'" Rivard said.
Audits of the water department are currently underway.
Barry Jameson is our hero this week. Jameson, an inmate at Richard J. Donovan State Prison when he first filed a civil suit 16 years ago, will finally get his day in court. As reported by the Union-Tribune's Greg Moran, the state Supreme Court recently handed Jameson a victory by saying poor litigants can't be forced to pay for their own court reporters.
The San Dieguito High School District is the goat. The school district is at risk of running out of money, and, amid the financial struggles, officials there are also dealing with transparency issues.