Utility Watchdog in San Diego

Steps to take if your bill is outrageously high

If you received your water bill and the number strays significantly from your normal usage there could be a couple of things going on (and a couple ways to get out of it!):

They didn’t bill you for the correct amount of water used

There is a leak on your property, or there is a leak from their meter.

Step 1

Check your meter. To find out which issue it is, start by checking the meter yourself. If the meter reads don’t match up, stop, call the water department and point out their error. If it does match, move on to the next steps.

Step 2

Collect your bills. Put together a collection of your last several bills including the one that shocked you into reading this article. If you don’t have past bills, don’t panic; just ask the water department to send you a history.

Step 3

Check for leaks around the meter. When you are checking your meter look to see if there was water on or around the meter. If your meter box is flooded, stop, call the water department and point out the problem. You are not responsible for the pipe leading to the meter! If the meter is broken and leaking e-mail  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 619-515-3525. If the meter is broken and not working the meter reader will make note of it and get it changed. If it meter box looks good, go on to the next steps.

Step 4

Check for leaks around the property. To do this, turn off all the water in your home. I mean everything! Sink, shower, dishwasher, washing machine, irrigation, etc. Check for visual signs of leaks. Then go out to the box. If you see movement it is likely that you have an underground or slow leak on your property. And, I hate to say it but, call a plumber. The sooner you pay the money for a plumber to find and fix the leak the sooner your water bill will go back down. There are situations in which you can get a bill adjustment even if the leak is on your property.

Step 5

If applicable, apply for a bill adjustment or deferral. You may apply if…

There is an irrigation leak and your sewer service charge is based on water use; or

There is a concealed pipe leak that is not readily detectible. But call the plumber and get this type of leak fixed right away because they will not adjust until you get it fixed.

To defer, your bill must be at least 200% more than your normal usage and must pay your normal amount by the due date. You will only be allowed to defer once in the life of the account and the amount will be split evenly for up to 12 months.

To apply for an adjustment or deferral, just call the water department at (619) 515-3500.

Step 6

If your reads are correct, if there are no leaks at the meter and no leaks on your property, it may be the meter itself.  If you believe the meter is malfunctioning, you can request a meter controversy test.  A meter controversy test costs $66 or $99 depending on your meter size (single family residential is $66).  The City will return the $66 to you if they discover that the meter was malfunctioning, or they will keep if they determine it is functioning correctly.  This can be done by calling the water department at (619) 515-3500 and or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If you have any questions on what you can do about your high water bill feel free to call us at (619) 696-6966.

About UCAN

UCAN has represented the interests of San Diego County utility customers since 1983. UCAN focuses its efforts on the rates and services of San Diego Gas and Electric Company, telecommunications utilities and the City of San Diego Water Department.