City Corner column: All you ever wanted to know about water meters

By O.C. Garza

Where is my water meter located and how often is it read?

Water meters are read about 30 days after the last reading, depending on the length of the month and the what weekday your reading date falls on. Typically, water meters are located in your yard near where the city water main meets the water supply line that runs to your home.

Are city utility meters read manually or electronically?

Almost all utility meters in Victoria are read manually. Our meter readers are like postmen. Come rain or shine, heat or cold, they will read your meter on the day your route is run.

How many meter readers does the city employ and how many meters are read each day?

About 22,000 meters are read each month and divided into four billing cycles. The city currently employs three full-time meter readers. In older parts of the city, each meter reader can read about 300 meters a day. In newer parts of the city, each meter reader can record up to 700 meters per day.

A pile of fire ants have taken over my meter and I still get a water bill each month. How is my meter being read?

The large water dial and the rest of the meter can remain buried or underwater when the meter is read. Our meter readers only need to read the small meter odometer that tracks water usage. Our readers simply brush aside anything that is on top of the odometer.

How is my meter read if it is underwater?

Our meter readers have a water scope they carry during heavy rains. The lens on the water scope works like a pair of swim goggles and allows our readers to read the meter odometer through most standing water. In the case of heavy rains or standing muddy water, our readers may have to bail the water out of the meter box or pump it out before the meter can be read.

Should I maintain the water meter?

No, you do not need to do anything to the water meter itself. But it helps the city save money if you keep dirt, mud, grass and fire ants out of the meter box. It also helps to secure all dogs away from the meter box.

Does the water meter detect water leaks?

Water meters will detect any water moving through the meter, including water leaks. In addition to the odometer that records the volume of water that passes through the meter, there is a small leak detector, or low flow indicator dial, located on the face of the meter that spins when any water is passing through the meter. The faster it spins, the more water is passing through the meter.

How can I check for water leaks?

Here's an easy way to check for leaks. Turn off all water indoors and outdoors including sprinklers and your ice maker. If the low flow indicator moves, this may indicate a leak in an appliance or pipe. If the meter shows no obvious movement, write down the reading and return in four hours to see if there is any change. Remember, if you use water during this time period, the meter reading will change. If the meter has changed, check all appliances, faucets, toilets and other water sources for drips or leaks.

Can I monitor my water use using the meter?

Yes. Read the odometer and write it down completely. Then write down the date you read it. After a period of days, we suggest seven days, read the odometer again and write it down and write down the date. Subtract the first reading from the second reading. This is your water use in gallons during the period. Divide the water use in gallons by the number of days between readings. This is your average gallons per day during the period.

Send your questions and comments for any city department or activity to City of Victoria, Public Information Office, P.O. Box 1758, Victoria, TX 77902, or pio@victoriatx.org.