Was the West Point Loma water meter being read?

City of San Diego's claim of skip-code doubted

"I had to kill all my flowers."
  • "I had to kill all my flowers."

“It’s insane just how beautiful it was back here, I had butterflies, flowers everywhere and was being mindful of how much water I was using, even cutting out one shower a week to make up for it… but after I got my water bill, I had to kill all my flowers because I thought I couldn’t afford it.”

The dirty water meter

The dirty water meter

Paul lives in a three-unit building on West Point Loma in Ocean Beach, along with three others. His water bill generally runs about $200 a month ($400 for two-month billing cycle). His back yard is an oasis of cactus, succulents and other drought tolerant plants, including a few, now dead, flowers.

“We don’t use a lot of water, so when I got the bill for $1,176 I thought, wow, it must be the flowers, but then I went out and checked my meter which was unreadable due to all hard dirt on it,” he told me.

He called the city of San Diego Public Utilities Department to inquire about their reading.

Water meter cleaned off

Water meter cleaned off

“They said it was read on September 17,” Paul explains. “Lies…my meter was so caked in dirt I had to take a sponge and scrub it off, you could barely see it, and they claim he’s been reading my meter? The previous read he said it was at 344 HCF’s and this time it’s at 442, which brought on the high bill. So I go out there and read it and it’s at 344-the same as what he said it was two months ago, so it sounds like he’s fudging somewhere. They kept insisting that ‘he read it on the 17, sir’, I said there’s no way, there’s no way that meter has been read in over a year.”

Paul showed me his water meter as well as his neighbors, which is located directly next to it, for comparison.

“Everyone I spoke to at the water department, they keep saying ‘we don’t estimate, we don’t estimate’-so I asked, what do you do when you get a meter like mine, that’s dirty and she said ‘well we get a skip-code.’ She said my meter's been read, and there’s no skip codes on mine. I was like, what?”

According to the city's website: Meter readers may skip readings for a variety of reasons, including when a meter is broken, inaccessible, or when the meter reader is unable to physically locate the meter. In cases like these, entering a trouble code into the handheld device will generate a work order for other PUD work crews to address the problem. Prompt fulfillment of the work order prevents the ongoing need for estimated reads.

“There’s no way he read mine three days ago with all the dirt that was on it, no way. And if he didn’t, why is there no skip code? That’s when they told me said that an investigator was going to come out. I don’t know when, though, but I’d sure like to know what happened so it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

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If you feel your water meter, electric meter, etc. isn't being read, put black tape over it. When they come out to "investigate" they will see that's it's impossible to read. My parents did it in the 70s with the electric company, and needless to say, you'll win. We were vacationing in Canada, and the electric bill "went up." So the tape went on after the bill came. Our meter wasn't broken or inaccessible (right inside the gate - patio - no plants). The employees were being lazy. Imagine.

does that work with the new electronic meters ?

Your water meter is in a concrete vault near the curb side. Almost all of the meters in San Diego are smart meters. The few that are not will be converted by early next year. Field inspections to read the meter have been replaced by electronic readings. Your suggestion is worthless to most people. BTW, all SDG&E customers, both residential and businesses have or will soon will receive smart meters This holds true for all investor owned utilities in California. This was mandated by something called the Ca. Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan that was put in place about 10 years ago. It's not the 70's any more.

Learn to read your meter and know what your billing cycle is. Read and record your meter and then compare it with your bill. Never trust the SD PUD or SDG&E to do the right thing.

My husband worked for PG&E (Market St. - SF) while attending grad school in the 80s. We'll be fine.

I was being facetious. You have to learn to read between the lines... sarcasm.

If you say so. Personally, I think you were actually being serious and were simply unaware.

That's not true. I have a lot on my plate (taking care of elderly parents) and at times humor is the only thing that keeps me from losing my sanity. I'm used to working, and I have all day off. I wish you well...

Well. actually it is true. I expressed my personal opinion and it is indeed my true opinion.

Don't blame the workers. A worker will do his/her job as supervision dictates. It is always management that sets the work culture. The SD PUD is and has been filled with lazy incompetent supervisors. Most are prompted by knowing someone not on their management ability. Every manager in the PUD should be fired. All supervisors should be demoted to their previous position. The only way to root out the corruption and incompetence is to clean house.

seems like the orig. management person(s) responsible retied when their scam made the news.

I believe he did and with great taxpayer paid benefits. He should have been arrested and charged.

What do you mean, "don't blame the workers?" If you are employed by the water district to read meters, you should be doing your job. There are lazy and incompetent supervisors, you say? Where did they start out? And I am assuming you mean "promoted" by others--there is no excuse for this kind of theft of time and resources.

No there is no excuse and I do not doubt that some of the supervisors were promoted from the ranks. Everyone should do their jobs and it is up to supervision and management to monitor and supervise the workers. In the end it is the lack of proper supervision and incompetent management that is to blame. "When the cats away the mice will play".

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