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Public Utilities

How to Read Your Water Meter

How to Read Your Water Meter Video

All customers within the City of San Diego have their water use measured by a meter. This results in each customer paying their share of operating the system based on the amount of water used.

All City of San Diego meters measure water in cubic feet (one cubic foot equals about 7.5 gallons). Charges for the amount of water consumed are based on the number of units of 100 cubic feet (748.5 gallons) you use during a billing period. You will see this listed on your bill as HCF.

There are several reasons you may want to be able to locate and read your water meter.

  • First, you might be interested in just how much water you use daily. By reading your meter at the beginning and the end of the day, you can compare the two totals to determine how much water you and your family used.
  • Second, you might want to see if the meter read listed on your bill is accurate.
  • Third, you might want to check for leaks. Turn all faucets and water-using appliances off and look at your meter. If it is still turning, chances are you have a leak somewhere.

Here is some useful information about your water meter:

STEP 1: Locate Your Meter

Your water meter is usually located near the curb in front of your home or place of business in a direct line with the main outside faucet. It is housed in a concrete box usually marked "water." More details about finding your water meter.

Carefully remove the lid by using a tool such as a large screwdriver. Please do not use your fingers. Insert the tool into one of the holes and pry the lid off. Visually examine the area around the meter to ensure there are no harmful insects or other animals. Small animals and rodents often dig around meters and disturb the soil, so you may need to dust off the meter to get a read. Gloves and or a small trowel can be helpful.

STEP 2: Read Your Water Meter

Over the years, the City has used several different brands and models of water meters. To find information on your particular water meter, please consult the  PDF icon Water Meter Visual Glossary.Straight-Reading Meter

In the picture of the water meter register shown, note the figures under the words CUBIC FEET. In this example, the meter shows 81,710. Because charges are based on units of 100 cubic feet, we ignore the last two numbers (the ones in the black background). So, the reading, in this case, is 817.

Estimating a Read

Meters cannot be read from time to time due to meter access impediments, staffing resources or a malfunctioning meter that registers zero use. In cases such as these, an estimated read will be provided based on prior use. The read shall be estimated using the daily usage for the same period the previous year or the average daily usage for the year if there is no billing history for that period.

If you have questions about your current meter read, please click here.