30-minute investigative special

“Drowning in Dysfunction” is the culmination of a year-long investigation by the On Your Side News 5 investigative team that began with the uncovering of thousands of customer complaints going unheard by the Cleveland Water Department – a department in which the federal government once stepped in to protect customers. As customers continue to be charged more than ever before with skyrocketing water rates, we question whether your rights are being violated. Our investigation reveals how the utility, which serves more than 1 million people in five counties and 79 communities, is “drowning in dysfunction.”

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Cleveland water town hall

News 5’s ongoing investigation into the Cleveland water department uncovered repeated customer complaints going unheard by the company. As part of our efforts to call for change in the department’s tactics, excessive overbilling and mistreatment of customers, we wanted to provide a platform for customers to voice their concerns and experiences. In November, News 5 held an exclusive town hall forum in its studio with a group of customers, who are all fighting the department for outrageous bills for water that they say they never used and called us for help. We invited the water department to attend and participate in the town hall, but they declined.

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Shutoff notices sent to Cleveland water customers in 2015
Tax liens placed on customers' homes (2013-15)