Reading Your Meter
Many of you have questions about your monthly water usage. Being able to read your own water meter will allow you to check your water consumption, detect leaks, and learn which of your appliances and fixtures use excessive water. You can use this information to help you conserve water and money.
How to Read Your Meter
Your water meter is located in the ground, usually at the front of the property, inside a rectangular box with a heavy lid. To read your meter, you will need to lift the lid with a tool, such as a large screwdriver, and lift the cap on the dial, if applicable to your meter. (Use caution. Black Widow spiders and other assorted insects and critters are known to nest in meter boxes.) The dial window will be dirty, so you will have to clean the window if it is too difficult to read.
Look for a small triangle at the center of your meter. If the triangle is moving (or if there is no triangle, but the sweep hand is moving), water is being used in the house or somewhere between the meter and the house.
Your water meter reads like a car’s odometer, but with a permanent zero/s in the gallon place. 5/8” to 1” residential meters have a single permanent zero, while 1.5” to 2” residential meters have two permanent zeros. The permanent zeros are counted as part of the number to be read. Gallons are counted by the red sweep hand. A complete revolution of this hand causes the register to move.
To calculate your water use, pick a starting point at which to read your meter; record the reading and date. The last number before the permanent zero should be recorded as a zero (0), as gallon usage is billed by the 100s. A day or two later, read your meter again. Subtract the first reading from the second reading to find out how much water was used. For example:
First reading ………….…00968700
Water use....…………….......…9400 gallons
Water Rate Schedule
Monthly Usage Billed
0-2000 gallons $40.00
Remainder, per thousand gallons $7.50
TCEQ Assessment of ½% on usage charges
How to Calculate Your Bill:
Average RAWS customer usage = 9400 gallons
First 2000 gallons $40.00 minimum
Remaining 1000s $ 55.50
TCEQ Assessment (.005) .48
Total Billed $100.98
Leaks Waste Water
Please note – if the triangle on your meter continues to turn when all water-using appliances (including the water heater, ice makers, and water softeners) are off or when your master supply valve is off, you have a leak.
Check all faucets and showerheads for leaks. If your showerhead is leaking, make sure it is screwed tightly and check the washer for wear. Repair leaking faucets by replacing washers and by tightening or repacking the faucet stem.
Also check all outside faucets or spigots. Use hose washers between spigots and water hoses to eliminate leaks. Replace or repair damaged or leaking hoses, nozzles, spigots and connectors.
Many toilet leaks are obvious because the toilet runs, makes noise, or you can see movement in the toilet bowl between flushes. To test for a silent leak, drop a little food coloring into the tank. If you see food coloring in the bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak.
The rubber flush valve or “flapper” decomposes over time. If black residue comes off when you touch the flapper, or it looks warped or disfigures, it’s time to replace it.
Malfunctioning water softeners, automatically filling swimming pools, water heaters and faulty irrigation valves are other areas where you might have a leak. If no obvious locations have leaks, and the triangle is still moving, you may have an underground leak, foundation leak, leak behind a wall, or one that is leaking in the general area of your septic tank, and you should call a plumber.
Please note that if you do not have a customer shut-off valve within one to two feet of your side of the meter, it is required to call a plumber or RAWS staff person to shut off water to the meter, as meters are RAWS property and tampering with public water supply facilities or equipment is considered a federal offense.
For your protection and convenience in the future, you may want to consider having a customer shut-off valve installed if one cannot be located.
“Responsible About Water Service”