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Water-leak warfare

Property owner contests readings from digital water meter

On February 14, 2015, the City of San Diego installed a new digital water meter at a University Avenue property belonging to Edwin Widjojo. The installation took place in the middle of a bill period, and the $610.76 water bill that came on April 2 caused Widjojo zero concern. But the following bill, dated June 2, shocked him.

Although Widjojo claims his water usage did not change, the bill stated that he owed $2937.87 for the billing period between March 31 and June 1. In one bill cycle, his property’s 636 gallons-per-day average jumped to 3218 gallons per day. 

“Even customer service care said, ‘No, this is not right,’” Widjojo says. “The bill shoots up five or six times? It doesn’t make sense.”

The Public Utilities Department suggested Widjojo perform a water-leak test and said they’d look at their end to see if the meter was read correctly. They said they’d get back to him either Friday, July 3, or Monday, July 6.

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“We did a general basic water-leak test,” Widjojo says. “We told the three [businesses on the property] not to use any water for the next 15 minutes. Basically, after the first 5 minutes, of course, the water’s still flowing a little bit, but after that, there was no water consumption at all because the meter didn’t run.”

In addition to this preliminary leak test, Widjojo went to the property outside of business hours, when the ice cream shop, coffee shop, and noodle shop on the property were closed. The meter was not moving.

“Based on that evidence, there is no leak,” Widjojo says.

By July 6, Widjojo received no callback from the Public Utilities Department. He decided to give it a couple of days, thinking maybe the holiday weekend had caused a delay. But when he hadn’t heard back by July 13, he tried again.

“I was getting a little impatient. I called them again. ‘What the hell’s going on?’” he says.

He was informed that a test had been performed on July 8 but that they’d found nothing wrong on their end. They offered to send someone out to do a water-meter inspection, for which he’d be billed $66. Frustrated, Widjojo contacted the Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN), which opened an investigation into his case.

“It’s not that I can’t pay the $66. I can. The question is, is it right for you to charge me for the possibility of fault [on your end],” he says. “If the investigator is going to be an independent, private company, then that’s a different story. I’ll be willing to do so. But if it’s paying you guys again, I’m not going to do it.”

On July 16, two days after the UCAN investigation opened, Widjojo received confirmation that the city is looking into the matter. The same day, he also received a shut-off notification for non-payment.

On July 17, the city agreed to extend his shut-off (originally scheduled for July 23) to August 3. In the event that the issue has not been sorted out by that date, however, Widjojo says he will be forced to pay the $2937.87 bill.

“I guess I’ll have to pay it. We don’t want to have the water shut off."

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On February 14, 2015, the City of San Diego installed a new digital water meter at a University Avenue property belonging to Edwin Widjojo. The installation took place in the middle of a bill period, and the $610.76 water bill that came on April 2 caused Widjojo zero concern. But the following bill, dated June 2, shocked him.

Although Widjojo claims his water usage did not change, the bill stated that he owed $2937.87 for the billing period between March 31 and June 1. In one bill cycle, his property’s 636 gallons-per-day average jumped to 3218 gallons per day. 

“Even customer service care said, ‘No, this is not right,’” Widjojo says. “The bill shoots up five or six times? It doesn’t make sense.”

The Public Utilities Department suggested Widjojo perform a water-leak test and said they’d look at their end to see if the meter was read correctly. They said they’d get back to him either Friday, July 3, or Monday, July 6.

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“We did a general basic water-leak test,” Widjojo says. “We told the three [businesses on the property] not to use any water for the next 15 minutes. Basically, after the first 5 minutes, of course, the water’s still flowing a little bit, but after that, there was no water consumption at all because the meter didn’t run.”

In addition to this preliminary leak test, Widjojo went to the property outside of business hours, when the ice cream shop, coffee shop, and noodle shop on the property were closed. The meter was not moving.

“Based on that evidence, there is no leak,” Widjojo says.

By July 6, Widjojo received no callback from the Public Utilities Department. He decided to give it a couple of days, thinking maybe the holiday weekend had caused a delay. But when he hadn’t heard back by July 13, he tried again.

“I was getting a little impatient. I called them again. ‘What the hell’s going on?’” he says.

He was informed that a test had been performed on July 8 but that they’d found nothing wrong on their end. They offered to send someone out to do a water-meter inspection, for which he’d be billed $66. Frustrated, Widjojo contacted the Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN), which opened an investigation into his case.

“It’s not that I can’t pay the $66. I can. The question is, is it right for you to charge me for the possibility of fault [on your end],” he says. “If the investigator is going to be an independent, private company, then that’s a different story. I’ll be willing to do so. But if it’s paying you guys again, I’m not going to do it.”

On July 16, two days after the UCAN investigation opened, Widjojo received confirmation that the city is looking into the matter. The same day, he also received a shut-off notification for non-payment.

On July 17, the city agreed to extend his shut-off (originally scheduled for July 23) to August 3. In the event that the issue has not been sorted out by that date, however, Widjojo says he will be forced to pay the $2937.87 bill.

“I guess I’ll have to pay it. We don’t want to have the water shut off."

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Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
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Previous article

Nirwana Indian Gastrobar showcases tacos, sliders, and pizza

Mira Mesa gastropub consolidates around chicken curries, vegetarian options, and fusion
Next Article

Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience, Paisanos Mexico, Taste of Barrio Logan

Events February 2-February 4, 2023
Comments

Accessibility to an outside water bib? If so, I'd keep an eye toward any kind of construction nearby. i really like this one كشف تسربات المياه

Nov. 19, 2016
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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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