Meet Your Water Meter

Our conservation-consultant-turned-investigative-reporter David Abrego is digging up more dirt for you. This time, he goes face-to-face with the water meter.

Many people don’t realize it, but they have easy access to a pretty powerful tool for managing their water use.

I’m talking about your water meter. And whether it’s located in your front yard, backyard or alley, the function is the same: to register your water consumption.

So without further ado, allow me to formally introduce you to your meter.

David: Hello! Some of us are intimidated by you and don’t take the opportunity to see how you function. Would you please explain how you can help us monitor water use?
Meter: Of course! First, I’m located underground, typically near the edge of your property beneath a round or oval lid. No matter my placement, my function is the same, I record your water consumption.

David: Do all meters looks the same?
Meter: We’re all quite similar, but the way we record your water use varies. Some of us measure in cubic feet and others in gallons. To know which one I am, just look at my face right beneath the number blocks and it’ll indicate either cubic feet or gallons.

David: That’s very helpful. But how is my water use measured and calculated for my bill?
Meter: I’m so glad you asked! If I’m a cubic feet meter, to calculate how many gallons of water you’ve consumed read the numbers on my face and subtract the previous month’s reading. Then, multiply that number by 748.1 to determine how many gallons you’ve used. If your meter records in gallons, repeat the process but this time add 00 to the result.

David: That sounds pretty simple. What else do you do?
Meter: I also have a needle that indicates how much water you’re consuming in real time. You can easily use me to measure how much water a section of your irrigation system is using, or your child’s shower. Hint: Your irrigation system uses more water than all of your household showers combined!

(David’s jaw drops and eyes bulge.)

Meter: Another great feature I have on my face is a flow indicator. Depending on your meter, it’s either a small triangle or an asterisk — and it can help you detect leaks! Just make sure no one is using any water and if that flow indicator is moving, you may have a water leak to investigate.

David: You are incredibly helpful! I hope everyone decides to get to know you better. Anything else we should know?
Meter: Yes, please use caution when you open my meter box. My little space is often used as shelter by small creatures like toads and such. Also, I would appreciate it if you would keep me clear of obstacles (branches, overgrown bushes, cars parked on top) as this prevents SAWS meter readers from reading me every month.

Picture of David Abrego
David Abrego
David Abrego is a conservation consultant for SAWS. David, a native of Panama, likes to spend his time surrounded by plants and fruit trees. So if you can’t find him at home, he’s probably working in a greenhouse. David is also an arborist and an irrigation technician.
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