How to Read Your Water Meter

There are several reasons why you might want to locate and read your water meter. First, you might be interested to know how much water you use in a day. By reading your meter at the beginning and end of a day, you can compare the 2 readings to tell how much water you and your family used. The second reason is to check for leaks. To do this, turn off all the taps in your house, then look at your meter. If the meter is still turning, chances are you have a leak somewhere. Here are some tips to help you find and read your water meter.

Step 1: Locate Your Meter

Your water meter is generally located near the curb in front of your home or place of business in a direct line with your main outside faucet. It is housed in a concrete box usually marked "water." Carefully remove the lid by using a tool such as a large screwdriver. Insert the tool into the hole and lift the lid off. Please do not use your fingers. Visually examine the area around the meter to make sure there are no harmful insects or other animals.

Step 2: Read Your Water Meter

All customers within the City of Poway have their water use measured by a meter. City of Poway meters measure water in cubic feet (1 cubic foot equals approximately 7.5 gallons). Charges for the amount of water consumed are based on the number of units (1 unit equals 100 cubic feet or approximately 748.05 gallons) used during a billing period.

Types of Meters

Water Meter

Straight-Reading Meter

The majority of the city's meters are the straight-reading meter, which resembles an odometer in a car. In the meter shown, the reading is taken from figures shown under the words "CUBIC FEET." The meter reads 81710.03, which is the total number of cubic feet of water recorded since the meter was installed. If the utility bills in units of 100 cubic feet, they would read this meter as simply 817.

iPerl Meter

Digital Water Meter Dials - 3/4-Inch & 1-Inch Meters

  1. There are 9 digits / bars on the Sensus iPerl meter at the top of the digital display. Only the 1st 4 numbers at the far left will be programmed in 100 cubic feet and read.
  2. You can also monitor the 9th number to the far right to check for leaks. Example: If the number rotates from 0 to 1, that's equivalent to 1/1,000th of one cubic foot of water (which is approximately 1 ounce).
  3. City of Poway uses cubic feet as its units of measure.
  4. To check for leaks, use the Flow Direction / Empty Pipe Indicator. If there is a plus sign in the middle of this circle, water is passing through the meter.
  5. Battery life indicator.

iPerl Screen Diagram100 cubic feet equals 1 unit or 748 gallons

1 cubic foot equals 7.48 gallons

Help Your Meter Reader

Your water meter is an accurate and dependable water measuring device used to register all the water used in your home or building. The water meter is usually located in a small box in the ground near the street or the edge of the property. To ensure access for reading and servicing your meter, it is important that you maintain the area around your meter box. Most people are not aware that their water meter is located within a utility easement. This means that when landscaping or fencing your yard, you need to maintain enough distance from the meter and box to allow us to read, service, and repair your meter. It also means that it is the property owner's responsibility to ensure that the meter box is visible and accessible at all times.


Please keep these things in mind when landscaping:

  • Permanent structures such as walls, fences, and gates (PDF) cannot be installed in a utility easement area without an encroachment permit from the city
  • Your meter area should be kept clear of shrubbery, trees and low growing bushes
  • When planting trees, keep in mind that tree roots can become entangled around the underground pipes increasing the possibility of broken pipes and water leaks
  • Shrubbery can become bushy and hinder our ability to read your meter
  • Customers who already have established landscaping are required to trim their plants to allow access to the meter box

If landscaping does cause access difficulty, we ask that you clear it. However, if we need immediate access, we may clear the vegetation without prior notice. Please note that the city has the right to remove obstructions placed in a utility easement area and is not responsible for any damage that may be caused by removing the obstruction.

If you have any questions about maintaining your meter or need help in locating your water meter, please call the city's Customer Service Division at 858-668-4401.