Water Meters

The Public Works Water Division staff is responsible for the maintenance and installation of approximately 5,000 water meters in service citywide. They work closely with the city's Utility Billing Department staff, who are responsible for producing the monthly water bills and monitoring accounts for anomalies that could indicate a leak or other issue.

The city contracts with a meter reader to manually read the water meters during the last week of each month.

Meter Readings

The water meters are read each month to determine what your consumption is for that billing period. It is possible for you to read your meter and determine your consumption. First of all, you'll need to locate your meter. Water meters are set in the ground near the sidewalk or street, enclosed in a cement box and covered with a metal lid.

To find out how much water you've used in any given period, simply subtract the previous read from the current read; as the meters are never reset. This will give you the amount of consumption in units. One unit equals 748 gallons or 100 cubic feet of water. The city uses meters that measure cubic feet of water used. To convert cubic feet of water into gallons, multiply the number shown on your meter by 7.48. As you look at the face of your meter, you will see a needle. Every time the needle goes around, one cubic foot of water (7.48 gallons) is used.

Water Consumption

If your consumption seems high this month and you haven't changed your usage habits then you might have a leak. You can call the Utility Billing office at 503-570-1610 and the city's water crew come out to check your water meter (at no charge).

Leak Check

If you would like to perform a simple leak check, first make sure there is no water being used in your house (E.g., your dishwasher or washing machine running, etc.). Then, take a look at your meter and locate the large needle. On top of the large needle is a small triangle shaped dial that has no cubic feet value but will detect small flows of water through the meter. The triangle shaped dial should be completely still. If it shows any movement, you have a leak somewhere within your plumbing. If you meter is not turning but you still feel there is a problem here is additional information that could help. If you are not able to locate the leak, you may have to contact a plumber for assistance.

Billing Adjustments

The city does offer adjustments on your billing if you should experience a leak between the meter and the house. To qualify for this credit, you must report the leak as soon as you are aware of it. The leak must be repaired within 72 hours, however, extensions on this time limit may be granted in certain situations. Once the leak is repaired, submit a Leak Adjustment Form to the Utility Billing Department via mail, fax, or email. In most situations, your adjustment will appear on your next monthly statement.

Maintaining Meter Area

Most people are unaware that their water meter is located within a utility easement. This means that when landscaping or fencing, you should maintain a safe distance from the meter and protective box. Some things to keep in mind about landscaping:
  • The meter should be kept clear of shrubbery, ornamental trees, and low growing bushes. Do not bury your meter.
  • When planting trees, please be aware that tree roots can become entangled around pipes increasing the possibility of a line breakage.
  • Customers who already have established landscaping are required to trim vegetation back from the meter box.
The next time you are working in your yard, please take a few minutes and check out the area around your meter. A few things to consider are:
  • Is the meter easily seen from the street
  • Do you have to push shrubs or tree limbs out of the way to get to the meter
  • Do you have to duck down or crawl to read the meter.

Meter tampering

A fee of $500.00 will be charged for a meter that has been tampered with or altered in any way.

Additional Information

If any of these are true, our meter reader will have trouble reading your meter. If you have questions on maintaining your meter, meter installation, or bulk water, please call the Public Works Department at 503-682-4092. For questions regarding water rates or your water bill, please contact the Utility Billing Department at 503-570-1610.