The Widder Curry: The Water Bill Has Hit the Fan

by on November 30, 2017 · 21 comments

in Ocean Beach

It seems to me that I wrote a similar article about the high water rates a year or so ago.  I know how upset I was with the raise in the water rates after it was announced that the drought was over.  I know that many of us either appeared at the City Council meeting or sent letters protesting the rate increase, and, as per usual, we were “overruled” and the rates went into effect.

At that time I was “upset” about the increase.  Now I am pissed. And it isn’t just me.  I have the names of 286 residents in the Pt. Loma area that are also upset with the water bills we all received this week. And before I tell you the breakdown of a poll initiated by one of our neighbors – Mi Do – of the Fleetridge area, let me tell you why I am so pissed.

I am on a fixed income.  My social security take home is about $1300 a month! Yes. That is not a typo.  And yes, I was an educator and should have a pension, but when I was transferred to the Job Corps system in Maine, I took out the money to purchase a house there. And after we sold the house, the interest that the retirement system wanted on the amount of money I borrowed was prohibitive.

Thank goodness I had also worked under the social security system at both Job Corps, San Diego State University, and other jobs throughout my career, because I have no income from my husband. (He retired as a school superintendent but his yearly salary was $30,000! a year.  When he retired we had the opportunity to take less money each money and stretch it out so that I would have some income, or take a larger monthly amount.  We chose the larger amount, and you can imagine how much (little) income there was on $30,000.

The bill I just received was for $392.24 – one quarter of what my monthly income is.  Yes, I have students living with me, but we restrict ourselves to one 5 minute shower a day; I run the dishwasher every 5 days; my plants and trees are watered for 5 minutes twice a week for 5 minutes at each of the 7 stations.  I put water in the pool once a month, and there is not much evaporation during that month.  We use the washing machine once a week – maybe 3-4 loads, maximum.  I save water from the shower; I don’t water the side yards; and I still have a bill for almost $400!  Why?

As soon as I received my bill I called the Water Department to ask them to come out and do a water audit.  I called at 2:30pm Friday afternoon.  After going through all the rigamarole of putting in my account number, and what I wanted to do, I got a recording telling me that I could either leave my number and not lose my place in line, or I could hold because there was only a one minute delay.  So I held, and held, and held.  And still I kept getting the “one minute” delay comment.  I hung up; called back and got the same recording. At 3:30pm I left my phone number and waited for the call back. I am still waiting for the call back.

And then I saw the poll from Mi Do.  “What is your last San Diego Water Bill”?  Without even reading further, I figured that I was not the only one getting bent out of shape over the bill.  At this writing, there have been 286 responses, and I find the results very enlightening:

  • 63% of the residents had a bill of over $200
  • 20% of the residents had a bill of between $150-200
  • 16% of the residents had a bill of between $100-150
  • 2% of the residents had a bill of under $100.

Almost to a household people said that they were conserving, and the more they conserve the higher the water bill.  One person said that for a household of 3, with no grass, only rock, and environmentally aware,  her bill topped $700!  A friend of mine was gone from October 11-November 11th.  No one lived in his house for that period of time. His water bill was $116.17.

NSeveral people are trying to work with Tom, the trouble shooter, on NBC News to figure out why our bills are so high.  The drought is over. The drought we are feeling now is in our own pocket.  I have never, after living in this house since 1968, EVER had a water bill this high.

I will be calling Turko on Monday to talk to him about this also. At the rate this is going, I may have to stop taking some of my medicines in order to compensate for higher rates on water.

I want to know how they figured out the difference between Tier 1, 2 and 3; I want to know if I saved so much water from the shower why the sewer base fee ($35.77) is so much more ($73.83).  Much of the water is not even going down the sewer.  It sure seems to me that $168.33 for use of the sewer and storm drain is a lot of money.

I think that someone needs to look into where all that money is going. We are not the only neighborhood in San Diego.  There has to be a surplus of money – as there should be a surplus of water – hidden somewhere.  We keep hearing the drought is over and people have conserved so much that rates had to change to keep up with expenses.  Well, if conserving is raising my rates, you can better believe my days of conservation are over.  What about you folks?


{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie November 30, 2017 at 11:16 am

Great post Judi!

I agree, the utilities are out of control. Do keep posting on your efforts and how each of us can help to voice our concerns and complaints. Maybe Mike Aguirre would have some words of wisdom based on his experience with cases like SDG&E.

Let me know if you have time for a holiday lunch :-)


judi November 30, 2017 at 1:37 pm

Sure Debbie. Give me a call and let’s set something up.


Cheryl November 30, 2017 at 12:29 pm

I, too, was shocked by our water bill. I thought we had a leak somewhere. I checked our irrigation timers, got my husband to order a new part for the toilet, as I the it is running too long after a flush. I am a little glad to know it is not just us, but is there any hope for lower bills?


K.B. November 30, 2017 at 1:24 pm

All my friends got outrageous water bill hikes this last bill. My neighbor’s bill is $500. My has doubled to $205 and we use and reuse minimal water. A friend in SE SD got a bill for $600. She doesn’t have the money to pay for it and SD won’t let her pay on payments. How about a survey on how many OB Rag reader bills jumped, doubled or more?
What is going on?


Gregg Sullivan November 30, 2017 at 1:27 pm

Maybe you have a water leak. A leak in a pipe or constant running toilet can really add up.


judi November 30, 2017 at 1:35 pm

Thanks, Gregg. I checked the water meter and there was no action when I checked. I do have the water company coming out the 15th of December to do a water check.


Frank Gormlie November 30, 2017 at 1:46 pm

Gregg – all the people Judi cited have water leaks?


Gregg Sullivan December 1, 2017 at 5:20 pm

Well Frankie I had a water leak and my bill doubled. It was a suggestion for judi not an affirmation that all high bills are water leaks.


judi November 30, 2017 at 1:37 pm

Statistics on the poll at 1:36pm on Thursday:
320 respondents:
63% over $200
21% over $150-200
14% over $100
2 % under $100.


triggerfinger November 30, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Well her usage has gone up every month, doubling since March, same as last year.

Mine has been fairly consistent, with 4 people in the house and minimal landscaping. I wish I had tiered billing. Every gallon I use is charged at higher than her tier 2 rate.

Here’s my last 16 months of bills. The meter and sewer fee is about $80 on each bill, even if I use no water.

15 HCF $235
13 HCF $217
13 HCF $217
12 HCF $206
12 HCF $206
13 HCF $217
13 HCF $220
14 HCF $246


OB/PL Local November 30, 2017 at 3:14 pm

You have every right to be really pissed off Judi. I don’t blame you one bit.


Christo December 1, 2017 at 8:21 am

Look at your bill in the lower right corner of the “Meter Information” box. The bill says are using an average of 406 gallons per day. That is an issue.

Average household in San Diego is currently about 130 gallons per day.

You have a leak somewhere.


judi December 1, 2017 at 11:44 am

I do not have a leak!


Christo December 2, 2017 at 10:53 pm

The fact remains that your bill shows an average of 406 gallons per day. What is the cause?


Chuck December 4, 2017 at 4:52 am

Any updates on this? 400 gal a day seems like a lot of water. Feel I would have to purposely try and waste (leak) water to reach 400 gal a day. Judy mentioned a pool and it looks like a average sized pool is around 15,000 gal. At 400+ gal a day you’re essentially using/filling it contents each month. Quick google search says 85 gal per day is average usage. 400 gal a day is over double per person average usage?…


Chuck December 4, 2017 at 4:55 am

Also, the “service period” shows this bill is covering two months of service?


GML December 1, 2017 at 12:25 pm

I agree with Christo. It could also be a slowly leaking toilet gasket as well. Even thought it seems minor over the course of a day/month it can result in a lot of water.


shelley goren December 2, 2017 at 9:16 am

I received a bill of over $700. from my last statement. This is outrageous. I have no leaks under my home, run the sprinklers at minimum time 2 times a week. I do one load of wash in 2 weeks and almost never have enough dishes to fill the dishwasher.
Something is radically wrong and unfair.


Christo December 2, 2017 at 10:54 pm

Again- the GPD is the key. How much are you being billed for?


Larry OB December 3, 2017 at 7:07 pm

If it’s not a leak, then someone is stealing water from you. 38 HCF in 70 days is way too much water. A failed water softener can use a lot of water. You could have a leak between your meter and the house. Or a leak between the house and your sprinkler control. I would start with shutting off the water to the sprinkler, because you can water with a hose until you sort things out. Your bill is so high, that I think it’s worth calling out a plumber for one hour of his advice.


George December 4, 2017 at 6:27 am

If you want to get really upset look at the salaries of the water district employees and their huge pensions. Unbelievable numbers.


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