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The Sound of Ideas

Water Department Woes

Posted Thursday, November 18, 2010

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Water Department Woes The Cleveland Division of Water is still flooded with complaints despite extensive changes aimed at improving customer service. Utilities director Barry Withers and the city's chief of operations, Darnell Brown, will be in studio to answer questions, field complaints and hear suggestions. Plus, a suburban mayor tries to slow down plans that would triple sewer bills in the region. We'll talk with him, too, tomorrow at 9 on the Sound of Ideas.



Darnell Brown, Chief of Operations, City of Cleveland
Barry Withers, Director of the Cleveland Department of Public Utilities
Ellen Jan Kleinerman, Reporter, The Plain Dealer
Mayor Dennis Clough, Westlake
Mayor Gary Starr, Middleburg Heights

Additional Information

Cleveland Division of Water
Editorial: Wading through new Cleveland Water woes
Proposed regional sewer rate increase meets some resistance

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Anne Zelten 9:40 PM 11/17/10

We already pay taxes on water for years and then you added takes on sewers thus taking us twice.  I feel our taxes are high enough already and the money you have in taxes should be enough to cover the maintenance and upkeep of these systems.  Enough is Enough.
No new taxes.
Anne Z
Olmsted falls

Harry Straughan 10:06 AM 11/18/10

Have not received a water bill in over a year

Joel Libava 10:14 AM 11/18/10

I own

I have dealt with Barry, and he’s a straight-shooter.

However, the customer service issues are huge, and no one seems to be on the same page.

Chris 10:29 AM 11/18/10

This problem is not new.
Darnell Brown & Barry Withers should
be fired. Yesterday.

gerry 10:35 AM 11/18/10

august 9 2010 called about my summer spinkling savings . Paid 200 of the 253 figuring my next bill would adjust. New bill yesterday witth a past due balance and no adjusttment. Called yesterday recording said waitt would be ten minutes thirty four minutes later deneen said the adjustment is case by case and i’d called the wrong number. Called water dept they had closed. Ps I live I live off clifton in cleveland the pumping distance is balderdash.

Dennis Stan Szulinski 10:49 AM 11/18/10

I’m listening to your program as I type and so far all I hear from The Cleveland water dept. is excuses. Why don’t they just come out and say what is evident to most people, the water department is in complete disaray,with many employees that don’t care if a customers problems are corrected or not. Not only good top management but also good,lower level employees that arn’t just there to put in their time are needed.

Beth Ann 11:43 AM 11/18/10

No meter read for one year. In July 2010 we received a $600+ water bill that was estimated. On hold twice for over an hour. Acct. put on hold—I was told we had a broken meter, so meter was checked out. Meter worked fine - got an actual read. New bill was $300+. We paid it.
On Saturday October 9th, we were outside doing yard work when a meter reader came to the house. She sat in her truck for about 10 minutes then started the motor and began to leave. We ran over to her and asked her if there was a problem. She said she couldn’t find our meter to do the actual read. We showed her that it was located in a vault (a manhole within one of our window wells) next to our home’s foundation. She was not physically able to take the cover off the vault. My husband did it for her and she got an actual read which she also gave to us. When we got our most recent water bill the read was AN ESTIMATE once again! I called and was on hold for 45 minutes when I was suddenly cut off. So, I went online and filed my complaint/question with customer service. I’ve never heard back from them.
It’s absolutely unreal.
Because of our meter being in this vault, I requested having a remote meter read/scanner installed by the department. I was told that we would have to pay $40 or so to have them install it.
They would come out to see if it actually could be installed with our meter… and the earliest date they could come and check will be December 29th, 2010.
Thanks for letting me vent, Sound of Ideas. I hope the folks at the water dept. hear ALL of our comments loud & clear.
BTW… one of the major drop-shafts for the Euclid Creek Tunnel project will literally be in my “backyard” at E. 156 & Lakeshore.

Linda 1:38 PM 11/18/10

I was successful at resolving my issues with the water department.  I had all the same problems that the callers from today’s show had and it took me over a year to resolve.  In the end, the way I resolved the problem was quite simple and quick. (Do not waste your time trying to call customer service, becuase the wait is long and customer service cannot do anything to help you to get an accurate bill or to restore regular billing.)

I was getting estimated bills, I was over billed, then I could not get any bill at all. 

I did the following to resolve the problem:
1.  I made an appointment with an inspector who came to the house and verified that the inside meter and outside meter reflected the same amount of water usage.  At the time the inspector also did a meter reading that was documented at the water company.
2.  I still did not receive a bill so I went downtown to the water department office.  I took a number and within 10 minutes I was able to talk to a person at the counter who created a hand written water bill. I took the meter readings I had made as well as the reading done by the inspector to make sure the amount of useage on the hand written bill was accurate.

As a result of the hand written bill, I was able to pay the reconciled balance and now I am receiving a regular quarterly bill. My automated bill is now accurate, it is not estimated and my issues seem to be resolved.


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