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Why Should I Read My Water Meter?

Reading your water meter can seem like a time-wasting task, but if it is not read, there can be serious consequences. Imagine receiving a small water bill of $50.00 and then 3 months later a water bill for $500.00! It happens. By reading your water meter you can discover small leaks before they evolve into big leaks, and in turn, save yourself money.

If you do not read your water meter regularly, then your Municipality will estimate the value based on usage at this time during the previous year. However, there are many inconsistencies with this method including, but not limited to:

  • Having company/house guests.
  • Leakage in your water system.
  • Watering your lawn.
  • Hoses/taps being left on.
  • Watering livestock.
  • Purchasing high flow shower heads.
  • Changing the dish washer/washing machine.

If your water meter reading has been estimated numerous times in a row, there is a good chance that the estimated value will not be accurate. If this has happened, the Municipality will have been billing you for the estimated reading, so when they receive an actual water meter reading, the difference can be quite significant.

If there is a leak in a pipe then the water can escape without ever surfacing. If this happens then the first you will know about it is when the water bill comes in. While you are arguing that it can't be right it will still be flowing.

A leak on your property can waste thousands of liters of water, at considerable cost to you. So follow these easy steps to find out if there are any leaks on your property: 

  • Last thing at night - after you no longer need any water or need to flush the toilet, turn off all household and garden taps.
  • Record your meter reading.
  • First thing in the morning, before anyone uses any water (including flushing the toilet), read the meter again.
  • Record the meter reading.
  • If there is a difference between the two readings, you have a leak, and should consider calling a plumber.

Conservation Tips:

Check faucets and pipes for leaks
A small drip from a worn faucet washer can waste 20 gallons of water per day! Larger leaks can waste hundreds of gallons.

Don't use the toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket
 Every time you flush a cigarette butt, facial tissue or other small bit of trash, five to seven gallons of water is wasted.

Check your toilets for leaks
 Put a little food coloring in your toilet tank. If, without flushing, the color begins to appear in the bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak that should be repaired immediately. Most replacement parts are inexpensive and easy to install.

Use your water meter to check for hidden water leaks

Install water-saving shower heads and low-flow faucet aerators 
 Inexpensive water-saving low-flow shower heads or restrictors are easy for the homeowner to install. Also, long, hot showers can use five to ten gallons every unneeded minute. Limit your showers to the time it takes to soap up, wash down and rinse off. "Low-flow" means it uses less than 2.5 gallons per minute.

Put plastic bottles or float booster in your toilet tank
 To cut down on water waste, put an inch or two of sand or pebbles inside each of two plastic bottles to weigh them down. Fill the bottles with water, screw the lids on, and put them in your toilet tank, safely away from the operating mechanisms. This may save ten or more gallons of water per day.

Be sure at least 3 gallons of water remain in the tank so it will flush properly. If there is not enough water to get a proper flush, users will hold the lever down too long or do multiple flushes to get rid of waste. Two flushings at 1.4 gallons is worse than a single 2.0 gallon flush. A better suggestion would be to buy an adjustable toilet flapper that allow for adjustment of their-per flush use.  Then the user can adjust the flush rate to the minimum per flush setting that achieves a single good flush each time.
For new installations, consider buying "low flush" toilets, which use 1 to 2 gallons per flush instead of the usual 3 to 5 gallons.
 Replacing an 18 liter per flush toilet with an ultra-low volume (ULV) 6 liter flush model represents a 70% savings in water flushed and will cut indoor water use by about 30%.

Insulate your water pipes. 
 It's easy and inexpensive to insulate your water pipes with pre-slit foam pipe insulation. You'll get hot water faster plus avoid wasting water while it heats up.

Take shorter showers.
 One way to cut down on water use is to turn off the shower after soaping up, then turn it back on to rinse. A four-minute shower uses approximately 20 to 40 gallons of water.

Turn off the water after you wet your toothbrush
There is no need to keep the water running while brushing your teeth. Just wet your brush and fill a glass for mouth rinsing.

Rinse your razor in the sink
 Fill the sink with a few inches of warm water. This will rinse your razor just as well as running water, with far less waste of water.

Use your dishwasher and clothes washer for only full loads
 Automatic dishwashers and clothes washers should be fully loaded for optimum water conservation. Most makers of dishwashing soap recommend not pre-rinsing dishes which is a big water savings.

With clothes washers, avoid the permanent press cycle, which uses an added 20 liters (5 gallons) for the extra rinse. For partial loads, adjust water levels to match the size of the load. Replace old clothes washers. New Energy Star rated washers use 35 - 50% less water and 50% less energy per load. If you're in the market for a new clothes washer, consider buying a water-saving frontload washer.
Minimize use of kitchen sink garbage disposal units
 In-sink 'garburators' require lots of water to operate properly, and also add considerably to the volume of solids in a septic tank which can lead to maintenance problems. Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing food waste.

When washing dishes by hand, don't leave the water running for rinsing
 If you have a double-basin, fill one with soapy water and one with rinse water. If you have a single-basin sink, gather washed dishes in a dish rack and rinse them with a spray device or a panful of hot water. If using a dishwasher, there is usually no need to pre-rinse the dishes.

Don't let the faucet run while you clean vegetables
Just rinse them in a stoppered sink or a pan of clean water. Use a dual-setting aerator.

Keep a bottle of drinking water in the fridge.
 Running tap water to cool it off for drinking water is wasteful. Store drinking water in the fridge in a safe drinking bottle.


Water conservation in the yard and garden... 

Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants

 Mulch will slow evaporation of moisture while discouraging weed growth. Adding 2 - 4 inches of organic material such as compost or bark mulch will increase the ability of the soil to retain moisture. Press the mulch down around the drip line of each plant to form a slight depression which will prevent or minimize water runoff.

Don't water the driveway
 Position your sprinklers so water lands on the lawn or garden, not on paved areas. Also, avoid watering on windy days.

Water your lawn only when it needs it
A good way to see if your lawn needs watering is to step on the grass. If it springs back up when you move, it doesn't need water. If it stays flat, the lawn is ready for watering. Letting the grass grow taller (to 3") will also promote water retention in the soil.
 Most lawns only need about 1" of water each week. During dry spells, you can stop watering altogether and the lawn will go brown and dormant. Once cooler weather arrives, the morning dew and rainfall will bring the lawn back to its usual vigor. This may result in a brown summer lawn, but it saves a lot of water.

Deep-soak your lawn
 When watering the lawn, do it long enough for the moisture to soak down to the roots where it will do the most good. A light sprinkling can evaporate quickly and tends to encourage shallow root systems. Put an empty tuna can on your lawn - when it's full, you've watered about the right amount.

Water during the early parts of the day; avoid watering when it's windy
 Early morning is generally better than dusk since it helps prevent the growth of fungus. Early watering, and late watering, also reduce water loss to evaporation. Watering early in the day is also the best defence against slugs and other garden pests. Try not to water when it's windy - wind can blow sprinklers off target and speed evaporation.

Don't run the hose while washing your car
Clean the car using a pail of soapy water. Use the hose only for rinsing - this simple practice can save as much as 150 gallons when washing a car. Use a spray nozzle when rinsing for more efficient use of water.

Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways and sidewalks

Check for leaks in pipes, hoses, faucets and couplings
Leaks outside the house may not seem as bad since they're not as visible. But they can be just as wasteful as leaks indoors. Check frequently to keep them drip-free. Use hose washers at spigots and hose connections to eliminate leaks.

Water conservation comes naturally when everyone in the family is aware of its importance, and if parents take the time to teach children some of the simple water-saving methods around the home which can make a big difference.

Information provided by

The Municipality is not responsible for any special, indirect, incidental or consequential damages that may arise from the use of this pamphlet. Information is provided without any representation of any kind as to accuracy or content and should be verified by the user.