NewsChannel 5 investigates expensive water bills

Posted at 5:44 PM, Feb 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-18 18:23:14-05

After numerous complaints from you about water bills from the city of Cleveland, NewsChannel 5 decided to take action.

"Like it's a highway robbery. How are they going to charge me for something I've never consumed? I never had it and I've never used it," said Francisco Vazquez while standing in his commercial building on West 34th Street. He told us ever since he bought the building in 2008, water has not been connected. However, a water bill came two weeks ago saying he owes more than $6,500. "I've never used any water, never solicited any water for this building, nor have I ever had any water," Vazquez told us.

We noticed the sprinkler connection inside his building is dry and so is his toilet. In fact, the water he uses inside comes from big blue barrels he's brought in.

The recent notice from the city said it has tried multiple times to reach Vazquez about the big bill.  Vazquez said that hasn't happened. "Never have been contacted about this water amount."

He also said he's been down to the water department four times trying to get some answers.  "Nobody cares.  Nobody listens," said Vazquez about those experiences.

Shortly after we called the water department looking for answers, city crews responded quickly to the building. Vazquez was not there.  They told us they did find a fire connection and a residential line and that there is a quarterly fee for that fire hook-up.

Vazquez eventually returned and said he will call the water department tomorrow so crews can come back out and get into the building for further inspection on this issue.

In the meantime, Vazquez said he's had big dreams for the building which include an all-in-one wedding shop with cakes, flowers, photography and more.  But now?  "This is a stress.  It is so much, we're going to give it up," Vazquez said.

Cleveland Division of Water reps told me they need some time to investigate Vazquez' case because it appears to be a bit more complex. They also said they want to hear from customers so they can work to find solutions.