Cleveland Water Dept. under increased scrutiny

Posted at 9:00 PM, Feb 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-29 05:50:54-05

An exclusive 5 On Your Side investigation is prompting increased scrutiny into billing practices by the Cleveland Division of Water.

Our original investigation found water customers are being billed thousands of dollars for water they never used.

In addition, a complaint process involving the city’s Water Review Board that was created by federal court order to protect customer’s rights involving dispute bills is shrouded in secrecy.

There is no mention of the water review board process on the department’s website, no posting in a customer service areas and nothing detailing customer’s rights on water bills.

We found the Division of Water issued more than 44-thousand shut off notices last year, yet only 31 customer cases were heard before the review board.

Plus, of those who did get a hearing—22 were denied and 9 were given payment plans.

Councilman Mike Polensek, a member of the Public Utilities Committee that oversees the water department, said he is looking into questions raised in our report.

“These are our customers,”said Polensek, “You have to provide customer service and in this case, the cit is not providing customer service and that needs to change.”

“There’s no doubt there are a lot questions.”

Plus, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has received more than 130 complaints over the last 3 years in billing practices by the Cleveland water department.

“I’m concerned about what’s happening,” said DeWine, “People should know that they have the right to appeal—that is into the law and they have that right.

DeWine encouraged customers who believe they are being overbilled to contact his consumer complaint website and file a complaint.