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Trickle-down behavior at water company

Meeting GWP on the playground after school

October 12, 2010|By Gary Huerta

About this time last year, I wrote about the misadventures of Escott Norton, a Glendale resident who was charged $5,471 in one billing period because Glendale Water and Power claimed his family had used more than 1.5 million gallons of water per day.

For those who have trouble visualizing the absurdity of that sort of usage, it is the equivalent of filling six 4,000-gallon tanker trucks of water every day for 60 days.

While Glendale Water and Power eventually released Norton from this ridiculous bill after a months-long battle, they did so without ever admitting the bill, or their meter, was in error.


At exactly the same time as I was documenting Norton's struggles with Glendale Water and Power, I was experiencing my own issues. I had forgotten to pay my utility bill, and as a result my water was shut off.

The fact our water was shut off on a Friday afternoon with no way to get it turned on over the weekend was not something I took issue with at the time. Nor did I publicly vent my dislike of the policy demanding a whopping $850 security deposit in order to turn the water back on. Nor did I comment on how much I hated the fact that Glendale Water and Power said it would only return the deposit after we had made 12 months of payments on time. If we were late, the 12-month security deposit hold would begin anew.

That last contingency felt curiously one-sided. The conspiracy theorist in me wondered what would prevent Glendale Water and Power from holding on to my check for a few days without cashing it so they could assert their right to keep my deposit. I guess the utility's five-year strategic plan to improve customer service would prevent that, right?

Like I said, I was in the midst of covering Norton's story and didn't want my own odyssey to taint what I was reporting. So I bit my lip for nearly a full year. But since Oct. 15 marks the one-year anniversary of my security deposit earning interest for the utility, I thought I'd take the opportunity to share my observations on the matter.

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