A growing backlog of broken water meter boxes and lids has plagued the San Diego Public Utilities Department — an agency still reeling from months of public outrage following spiking water bill throughout the city.
That’s according to a recent report by the independent City Auditor’s Office, which found that agency “mismanagement” led to a backlog of more than 25,000 broken meter cases. The city has 281,500 such devices.
The audit report stated: “We found that PUD’s delayed response to box and lid maintenance issues resulted from a lack of management oversight and accountability; a variety of process inefficiencies; and inadequate strategic planning.”
The findings will be presented to the City Council’s Audit Committee on Wednesday.
Specifically, the report found that agency heads failed to provide adequate oversight or establish performance goals, while workers routinely wasted time during repair trips due to poor planning.
When a concrete enclosure is cracked, a water meter can be exposed to weather damage. And because the meters are often located along the sidewalk, broken lids and cases can also be a tripping hazard for pedestrians, creating a legal risk to the city, according to the audit report.
The department’s internal standard for fixing the meter covers is six months. However the report found that on average lids took 11 months and boxes more than a year and a half. The standard was only met a quarter of the time.
Vic Bianes resigned as director of the department in August after leading the distressed agency for less than a year.
A recent analysis by the San Diego Union-Tribune found that single-family homes serviced by the city’s water department were collectively overcharged by more than $2 million last year, with some residents receiving bills for tens of thousands of dollars.
The city has said it has since compensated people for the overcharges that stretched at least until earlier this year.
Phone: (619) 293-2234