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How to read your water meter

One way to keep track of how much water you use is to read your own water meter every now and then.

Reading the meter is easy, but you may need to do a little work to get to it. Most Denver Water customers have outdoor meters set in pits in the front Meter pit lidyard or in the sidewalk. The pit is a round metal plate about 12 inches in diameter, and usually says “Water Meter” on it. Most meter pits also are fitted with an Automatic Meter Reading device (an ERT) fitted through the lid, as shown in this photo. There is a five-sided brass nut at the edge. There are a number of other variations of meter pit lids, including plastic composite lids. Newer AMR devices are mounted under the lid instead of through it.

  1. Using a pair of channel-lock pliers, turn the nut counter-clockwise to unlock the meter pit lid and raise it a little. You can pick up the lid and move it out of the way. If there is an ERT mounted through or under the lid, be very careful not to damage the wiring between the meter and the ERT – be sure you carefully place the lid top down next to the pit. If you damage the wire or the ERT, Denver Water will have to repair or replace it at your cost.
  2. Inside the pit you will find a plastic inner frost lid. There may be an old meter dial on the frost lid. You can ignore this dial as it isn’t connected to the meter – just make sure not to drop it into the pit. Remove the frost lid to expose the meter about 12 to 14 inches down in the pit. You may need to open a cover on the top of the meter dial.
  3. Meter dialThe dial will have a row of numbers that looks like the odometer in a car. Each of the many different kinds of meters in our system looks a little different, but this picture is typical. Most of the numbers will be black on a white background, while the last three numbers are usually white on a black background. There may be one or more printed zeroes that don’t move. If you read just the black numbers on the white background on the left side of the dial, you will get the number of thousands of gallons you have used since the meter was installed – that’s the number Denver Water shows on your bill. When you check the meter again later, subtract the first reading from the second reading to get the number of thousands of gallons you used between the readings.
    In the example shown here, the numbers read 0369200. Denver Water reads this as 369,000 gallons have gone through the meter since it was installed.
  4. Close the meter dial cover if there is one, and carefully replace the frost lid. If there is an AMR device, thread the wire through the slot in the rim. Replace the meter pit lid, being careful that you do not damage the wire or the ERT, and tighten the nut to lock the meter lid tight. If the lid isn’t locked, someone stepping on it could slip into the pit.
    Some meters are located indoors. You just need to find your meter and read the numbers off the dial.