READING YOUR WATER METER
Overview
Your water meter is an important tool for understanding and monitoring
your water use. After you read this information, you will be able to
use the meter to determine if you have a water leak; measure the
amount of water leaking, and monitor your overall water use. The
information in this handout applies to a residence with its own meter;
if you fall into another category or share a water meter, please ask
the City’s Utilities Conservation Office for assistance at 7817217.
There are some
things you should know before you read your meter. Most residential
meters are the digital type. A digital meter is one large dial, and
it reads in a straight line, much as a car odometer reads. It also
has a sweep hand. Each complete revolution of the hand indicates one
cubic foot (7.48 gallons) of water has passed through the meter. Your
meter is read about every 30 days, and the result is recorded in
billing units. One billing unit is 100 cubic feet or 748 gallons.
How
to Read Your Meter
To
read your meter, look at the straight row of numbers on the dial. The
last two numbers are ignored, as they represent a fraction of one
billing unit. For example, the meter shown below reads 538.
Other Meters
A
few customers may have a “round read” type meter. This meter has
several small dials on the face. It is more complicated to read, so
if you have this type, feel free to call the Utilities Conservation
Office at 7817217 or 7817213, and our conservation technician will
meet with you to help you read it.
Detecting Leaks
If
you have a leak, it usually can be detected at the water meter. You
must first make sure that no one will be using even the smallest
amount of water while you are checking for leaks. Many newer meters
have a small black triangle on the face of the dial. This is a very
sensitive “leak detector.” Even a small leak will be indicated by a
rotating triangle. If after a few seconds, you see no clear movement,
you probably don’t have a leak, unless it’s an intermittent toilet
leak. (see brochure “Identifying and Repairing Toilet Leaks”)
For meters that have no leak detector, you can use the sweep hand to
check for leaks. Make a note of where the sweep hand is pointing,
then come back in about 20 minutes. Do not use any water during this
test period. If the hand has moved, you have a leak. You can
determine how much water is leaking by following the directions under
the heading, “Measuring the Water Use of a Fixture.”
Projecting Your Water Use
Look
on your last bill under the heading “Meter Readings.” Listed under
the word “Present” is your last read. Subtract that read from the
current number that you read off of your meter. The difference is how
many units of water you have used since your last water bill. Now
look on the bill where is says “Service Period.” The second date
under that heading is the date your meter was last read. The number
of days from that date to the present is the number of days that you
have been using water since the last read.
If, for example, you have used 2 units in the 10 days since your last
read, you can use that information to estimate how much water you may
use by the end of the current billing period. Here is how you do
it: Since there are about 30 days in each billing period, divide
30 by the number of days since the last read (10). Take that answer
(3) and multiply it by the number of units you used since the last read
(2).
The answer will be your estimated use.
30
/ 10 = 3
3 x 2 = 6
Based on your
current rate of use, 6 units is an estimate of the water use that will
show up on your next water bill. You can use the information on the
back of your bill to translate that number into a dollar amount.
Measuring Water Use of a Fixture
To
perform this measurement you will need a calculator, a stopwatch or
wristwatch, a pencil and a piece of paper. First make sure that no
one will be using water during your test, then turn the water fixture
on that you wish to measure. For instance, if you want to measure how
much water your back lawn uses, turn on those sprinklers and then go
to your meter. You will be measuring your water consumption for one
minute.
For a single family residential dwelling, each revolution of the
sweep hand means you have consumed 7.48 gallons. The dial is divided
into 100 points, and also into units of ten. If you measure water use
for one minute, the meter will register how much water you use per
minute. Simply count the number of points consumed during the minute
and treat it as a decimal value of 7.48 gallons. For instance, if the
meter turns 95 points, multiply 7.48 gallons by .95, and you get an
answer of 7.106 gallons consumed per minute. Simply multiply that
answer by the number of minutes you water each time, and your answer
will be how many gallons you use each time you water the lawn. In
this case, if you water 20 minutes, the problem is solved by the
following:
Calculating Water Use
Using
the example above:
7.106 gpm x 20 minutes = 142.12 gallons consumed
each time you water that lawn.
You can convert this number into billing units
by multiplying it by the number of times you will water
during the 30 day billing period, then
dividing the answer by 748.
For example, if you will be watering 12 times,
your water use in billing units,
will be as follows:
142.12 x 12 = 1705.44 gallons per billing period
1705.44 / 748 = 2.28 billing units
You can attribute 2.28 units on your next water bill
to that area of lawn.
For Single Family Residential Customers
Effective July 1, 2010
1  5 billing units are charged at $5.21 each;
6  25 units are charged at $6.52 each;
26+ units are charged at $8.17 each.
Additional Information

More information is available on solving your
water use problems. If you need to speak with someone, call the
Utilities Conservation Office at 7817217 or 7817213.
(Back
to Top)