Water department's new reasons why San Diegan's bills are high - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Water department's new reasons why San Diegan's bills are high

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — Complaints continue to pour into News 8 from San Diego residents who say their water bills are skyrocketing. 

The mayor has directed the city's public utilities department to investigate the claims, but the head of the department says there may be some simple reasons San Diegans are seeing higher bills. 

Since News 8 launched its water investigation last week, Public Utilities Director Michael Vogel says the department has either adjusted people's bills or - in many cases - explained why they're so high. 

RELATED: Many News 8 viewers see sudden jump in water bill 

"We're going through a variety of steps to try to answer customers' questions and their concerns," said Vogel. "We're looking at each and every case on an individual basis."

PUD has been inundated with complaints from all over the city. 

Some people saw their bills explode into the thousands of dollars. 

According to PUD, possible contributing factors include: 

  • A rate increase of 6.9 percent that took effect in August 
  • A one-time billing schedule change that extended the normal 60-day billing period by up to 70 days for November and December 
  • Warmer winter months 
  • Meter reading inconsistencies, which have already been corrected 
  • Leaks 

"Each and every one of these cases actually has a different cause," said Vogel, who says they are committed to helping customers. 

News 8 tagged along Thursday as Rigo Cosio paid a visit to Mike Cusick's Rancho Bernardo home - a service PUD provides for free. 

Cusick saw his bill jump from about $190 to $270 dollars and he wanted to know why.  

"Not a little, I thought that was a lot off, and then I started calling," said Cusick.  

It turned out he had a leak in an irrigation valve and one of his toilets, which could explain the rise. 

But some of the customers we have spoken to tell us they're not aware of anything that could lead such high bills. 

Vogel says at this point, there's no evidence of a glitch. 

But, not everyone is convinced. 

City Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry has called for an audit - something the city's auditor has agreed to. 

"It's clear to me there's something wrong and its beyond me and my staff to try and figure it out," said Bry.  

VIDEO: News 8 viewer complaints prompts investigation 

Vogel says an audit is not out of the ordinary and he welcomes it. 

It won't be complete until June. 

As for people with questions with their bills or having trouble paying it, you're urged to contact the City of San Diego Public Utilities

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