Why You Should Read Your Meter
Learning to read your water meter can help you to detect a leak sooner, measure the amount of water your household uses during measurable cycles of use, and better understand your water bill.
The City cannot closely monitor the small fluctuations in water use at every property, so a leak can become significant before it is spotted by staff. Being diligent in knowing what is “normal” for your household can be a good way to help detect underground leaks before they become severe, so customers are strongly encouraged to monitor water consumption at their home.
How to Read Your Meter
First locate your in-ground meter box. This should be somewhere near the curb or sidewalk in your yard. The meter box should have a rectangular metal lid on it, which you will want to remove to view the meter face.
The meter face could be a series of dials like an electric meter, wheels like a car odometer, or a digital face like a calculator. The digital meters have a light sensor, so if you do not immediately see a display, try shining a flashlight on the meter face to bring up the display.
Your meter will have a read between 5 - 9 digits long, depending on the style of meter. For billing purposes (to calculate hundred cubic feet), the City uses only the first 4 digits from the left. If you are not sure that you're reading the correct number of digits, compare the read to the consumption history printed on your most recent utility billing. The newest read will be near the top of your statement, under "Meter Reads".
Special note: Customers with a digital meter like the one shown here will see two reads alternating on the meter face at six second intervals. One is the meter read, the other is the average rate of flow. The average rate of flow will be mostly zeroes with a few digits after the decimal — this should be distinguishable from your actual read, which will have numbers before the decimal.
For billing purposes, a unit of water is 100 cubic feet, or 748 gallons.
Detecting a Leak Via Meter Read
If you have a meter with a digital face, your meter will have a leak detection icon in the display field, just above the numbers. If you see a small blinking faucet icon, it means your meter is registering steady flow for at least half the day every day. If you meter is showing the small faucet icon on steady, it means your meter is detecting flow all day every day. After you've made repairs, allow at least 24 hours to pass before checking to see if the icon has disappeared.
If you suspect you have a leak, and you have an older-style meter, try this simple check. First, ensure that all plumbing fixtures and water-based appliances are off inside the home. Locate your water meter in the ground near the curb and write down the full read as shown on the face of the meter. Although not all digits would be used for billing, due to the short time that will pass between reads, you will want to see changes in smaller increments.
After taking an initial meter read, ensure that no water is used in the home for at least 15 minutes, and then take a second read. If the read has changed, then water has passed through the system, which is a strong indicator of a leak. If your home has a shut-off valve where the water lines enter, a second test with this valve turned off may help locate whether the leak is inside the home or in the line between the meter and house.
A dripping faucet or other leak can result in substantial charges on your bill.
Water Leakage at 40 pounds of pressure
- A 1/32" leak wastes 22 cu. ft. in 24 hours
- A 1/16" leak wastes 129 cu. ft. in 24 hours
- A 1/8" leak wastes 480 cu. ft. in 24 hours
If you have had a water leak in a pipe, which has caused consumption more than twice the average for that billing period, you may be eligible for a billing adjustment as dictated by Camas Municipal Code 13.44.030.
Water Leak/Sewer Credit Adjustment Application