MAYFIELD HEIGHTS -- The Cleveland Water Department insists a homeowner's suddenly massive water bills are accurate.
Marc Golub, of Hidden Woods Trail, received a delinquency notice in the mail Wednesday, demanding the first $800 payment on his latest bill of more than $1,500.
"I find this outrageous. I find this almost criminal that an organization can charge you whatever they want and just say pay the bill," Golub complained, after learning the Cleveland Water Department has no intention of backing down.
Golub, who has lived with his wife in the ranch-style house for about six years, says up until October, 2011, his water bills were consistent, and about the same as any other average homeowner.
That's when the first hint of impending trouble arrived in his mailbox.
"Fifty thousand gallons. They said I had used 50,000 gallons of water," Golub explained, showing the bill of more than $760. He challenged the bill, won a hearing, and had the amount he actually owed adjusted.
"Obviously, it's an error. We'll credit your account," is what Golub says the Water Department told him.
Then came a January bill in which the Water Department insisted Golub's water consumption had increased even more dramatically.
"They said my water usage was 92 times higher than normal," he told WKYC.
Golub received another credit but the Water Department insists his latest bill, covering the period through April, is accurate and must be paid. Golub says the total amount is about $1,600.
"Why this third time am I to believe I used 119,680 gallons of water?" he asked incredulously. That works out to about 1,000 gallons a day, enough to fill 20 bathtubs to the brim every day.
He calculated he'd have to leave the shower running full blast for 7 hours a day to approximate the amount of water the department insists he has been using.
"It's nuts," he said. "It's impossible."
But the Cleveland Water Department has a completely different assessment.
It says after the first big bill in October, it tested Golub's water meter and found it was working correctly. Nevertheless, they replaced it.
And they insist the new meter is working correctly and that Golub's latest bill is accurate, as were the previous bills.
In fact, they say it was a mistake to give him a credit back in the fall.
"In 2011, Mr. Golub received an adjustment to which he was not entitled," a statement issued Wednesday afternoon by the Cleveland Water Department read.
"We have subsequently investigated multiple meters at Mr. Golub's property, and in each instance, the meter reads were accurate and the water meter was functioning properly," the statement continued.
Golub says he has had his relatively new house tested for leaks, and "there are none. No leaks, no toilet running, nothing."
The homeowner says he may have to pay the $800 toward his now-delinquent account, as he is afraid of having his water service cut off. He insists there is some "serious flaw" in the Water Department's billing process.
"Hundreds of customers like me have received outrageous, inaccurate bills," he told WKYC. "There is some deep seated problem."