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Read Your Water Meter

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Learning how to read your water meter is a useful tool to keep track of water consumption in your home. By reading your meter at the beginning and the end of the day you can compare the two totals and determine how much water you and your family used in a single day. You can also use your water meter to check for leaks. If you turn off all water-using fixtures in your house and the meter is still turning, chances are you have a leak somewhere. You will also want to know the location of the customer shutoff valve, so that you can turn off water to the house in the event of a leak. Here are some hints to help you find and read your water meter.

STEP 1: Locate Your Meter

In College Station, water meters are typically located in the front yard, near the curb. Outside meters are typically housed in a concrete or plastic box marked "water" or in a meter pit with a cast iron lid. Sometimes two water meters will be next to each other, on either side of the property line. Carefully remove the lid by using a tool such as a large screwdriver or pliers. Visually examine the area around the meter to make sure there are no harmful insects, such as fire ants or wasps. Scoop out any water in the meter box. 

Water meters for residential single-family homes are usually 5/8" or 3/4" size. It is unusual to find anything larger than a 1-inch meter on a single-family home. The size of the meter refers to the diameter of the opening where water flows through the meter. The size of the water meter is typically printed on the face of the meter, or it may be stamped into the case.

STEP 2: Read Your Water Meter

Water meter
The small red triangle, circle, or (+) sign (digital meters only) on the meter face is the low flow indicator. This indicator will move (or show) if *any* water is flowing through the meter, so it is useful in leak detection.

Your water meter will have several numbers on the front, similar to a car's odometer. In fact, your water meter is read the same way: from left to right. The first four numbers from left to right record usage in thousands of gallons and are recorded in the hand-held computers carried by each meter reader.

STEP 3: Calculate Your Usage

Now, calculate your water usage by taking your most recent utility bill and locating the "current reading." Subtract the reading you see on your meter from the "current reading" on your most recent bill, and determine your consumption (in thousands of gallons) since the meter was read last.

Sample Usage from Bill:
Consumption Analysis

ELECTRIC EL 68204 71097 2893 KWH
WATER WA 2258 2272 14 MGW

Water meters in the U.S. typically measure volume in gallons or cubic feet, and water utilities typically bill in units of 1,000 gallons or 100 cubic feet. (One cubic foot = 7.48 gallons and 100 cubic feet = 748 gallons.) College Station bills in 1,000-gallon units. On your bill each unit of water is labeled as MGW*. For example, if you used 14,000 gallons of water in one month, that is 14 MGW on your bill.

*Just what is a MGW? The "M" in MGW comes from the Latin "mille" for "a thousand." (Now go impress your friends and tell them you know how to speak Latin.)

STEP 3: Locate Your Master Water Shut-Off Valve

Occasionally it may be necessary to shut off water to your home, for example, if you are having an irrigation system installed.

If you have a water leak in your home, you will need to shut off the water - FAST! The easiest way to do this is to locate the customer shutoff valve, sometimes called the master valve. The customer shutoff valve is usually located on the customer side of the meter, and is there for your use to shut off the water. Never touch any part of the meter assembly that is between the water meter and the street. This portion of the meter assembly belongs to the City of College Station, and tampering with meters is a violation of City Ordinance. If you cannot find your shutoff valve, or if you need assistance in shutting off water, please call College Station Utilities Dispatch at 855-528-4278.

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