Judge rules on Westlake water battle

Judge rules on Westlake water battle
Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough responds to judge's ruling
Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough responds to judge's ruling

Cuyahoga County Judge Michael Astrab has filed his decision in the request for a preliminary injunction in the water case of Westlake vs. Cleveland.

He says that the City of Cleveland cannot issue the proposed $291 per quarter charge.

Westlake says it's 25-year contract is over and it should be free to buy water wherever it wants. Cleveland says not so fast, you've got five years left.

According to Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough that's when the problems began.

"Cleveland did not want us to pursue any other alternative supplier," says Mayor Clough.

Last fall Cleveland sent letters to nearly all of Westlake's 33,000 residents telling them their water rates would go up if their city went elsewhere for water.

Ron Johnson pays about $35 every three months for water, but the City of Cleveland stated he would have had to pay an additional $291, money he just doesn't have.

"No way.  We are on a fixed income," says Johnson.

In fact if Westlake chose another water contractor, Cleveland would sue-- stating it would try to recoup $58.8 million to recover its business operations.

In a preliminary injunction handed down Friday a judge basically ruled Cleveland can't raise rates if those exact figures were not in the contract that Mayor Clough signed 25 years ago.

In an excerpt the city wrote "We are disappointed and respectfully disagree with Judge Astrap's ruling." After the ruling Westlake's mayor and residents like Ron Johnson are breathing a lot easier.

Residents say fees above and beyond their water usage are reasons to investigate the Avon Lake option. Its costs are lower, some estimate as much as 10%. The utility already sells water on the west side in Lorain County and as far south as Brunswick Hills in Medina County.

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