The Cleveland Water Department made a big announcement on Thursday. It received a national award for its performance.
But for almost three years, the 5 On Your Side Investigators have reported about complaints from customers. This is a tale of two sides.
On the one side, you have the Gold Award given to Cleveland Water by the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies. It recognizes outstanding achievement in 10 areas like financial viability, product quality, and customer satisfaction.
Cleveland Water tells us it’s made plenty of strides in these areas and it has proven success in its projects. The agency said the value of the award is that the recognition comes from drinking water industry professionals, people who understand the industry. The association has been around since 1981. It’s made up of public water departments that cover more than 150 million people.
But then you have the other end of the stick. Our years-long Drowning in Dysfunction Investigation showing so many people struggling with water department problems. Just this past year, we've done numerous stories about issues with billing, leaks, and customer service. Plus, there are the JD Power rankings. This year's survey puts Cleveland in the bottom five nationwide in customer satisfaction.
As for the Gold Award, last year the Great Lakes Water Authority received one. That same agency has served Flint, Michigan since 2015. The company took over after the lead crisis began, but it took until this year for Michigan's Governor to end the bottled water and filter program and say the water is safe again.
Baltimore received the Gold Award last year, too. It ranks even lower than Cleveland when it comes to JD Power’s customer satisfaction rankings.