CHICAGO — A Chicago homeowner is looking for answers after receiving a nearly $7,000 water bill.
“Trust me you would be reporting a completely different story if I had used 600,000 gallons of water in a month,” said Chuck Wehland to WGN’s Alyssa Donovan. “You would be reporting a flood at Cleveland and Armitage.”
When Chuck Wehland opened up his monthly utility bill from the City of Chicago, he was shocked to see he owed $6,913.24 — with the bill showing that he supposedly used more than 600,000 gallons of water in just one month.
After more than a decade in his Lincoln Park home, Wehland said he knows what to expect when it comes to his water bill from month-to-month.
“Recently, it’s been like $230 a month,” Wehland said.
That includes water, sewer and garbage pickup, but even with all three wrapped up into one, Wehland said it should never come close to 30 times his typical monthly payment.
“Everything is the same,” Wehland said. “It’s not like we hear running water or anything like that.”
Wehland said when he called the City’s Department of Water Management, they told him to either go on a payment plan or pay the full bill, and the department would eventually send a worker to check the meter. If the bill was found incorrect, Wehland’s account would be credited.
“I don’t want 30 months of credit,” Wehland said. “That’s what I would end up getting because they wouldn’t refund my overpayment.”
However, if Wehland chooses not to pay, his credit score may take a hit.
“Well they threatened to report me to credit agencies and that kind of thing,” Wehland said.
Wehland is not alone. WGN Investigates has uncovered stories of other Chicago residents receiving excessively high water bills with few options on how to resolve the issue.
Wehland, who is a lawyer, knows he can take legal action against the City, but feels it shouldn’t come to that.
“I don’t want to do that and suing the city is never easy,” Wehland said. “There’s got to be a better way.”
Wehland said he considered taking the payment plan just to be done with the frustration, but instead decided to stand his ground, in hopes of a resolution at some point.
“I had a case last year in the supreme court that we won,” Wehland said. “But I can’t beat the Chicago water department.”
The City of Chicago released a statement to WGN on Friday that said, “The City does not comment on specific accounts. Additionally, the City does not report residents to credit agencies for delinquent utility account balances, nor do any of the law firms/collection agencies that collect for us.”