Water meters measure and record the amount of water used within your home or business. They can also be helpful in detecting water leaks within your system. Typically, water meters have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years and are installed inside your utility room where the water pipe enters the building from the ground – usually in the basement.
Your water meter is a highly accurate and dependable water measuring device that registers all the water used in your home or building in cubic meters (m3), which is the industry standard in Canada. Environment and Climate Change Canada (2011) reported Canadians use an average of 251 litres of water each day (1,000 litres = 1 cubic meter m3), which equates to 7.5 m3 per person per month.
In Chestermere, water meters are owned and maintained by CUI. Some of our meters are manually read while others use advanced technology, so they can be read remotely. They have electronic reading devices that allow the meter reader to drive or walk past your home and pick up the meter reading without entering the home or business.
The remote-read meters are of the same functional design as manual read meters. Both are equipped with displays that can manually be read and are always the official read in case a question comes up regarding the value of an electronic reading. Approximately 80% of CUI’s meters are remotely read with the other 20% being manually read.
Your meter is read by an EPCOR meter reader every month.
Your Meter Reading
The meter dial is like the odometer on your car. It continually reads your water consumption and is a cumulative total of the water that has run through that meter since it was installed. At any point you can get the consumption for a period by comparing the beginning reading to the final reading.
All newly installed water meters have a data logging function which continuously monitors water usage in 15-minute intervals. This function is tied to the leak indicator display that helps identify intermittent or continuous leaks. Leaks can result from various circumstances and early detection will help conserve water, saving you time and money.
Although uncommon, the meter reader can incorrectly read the meter or incorrectly enter the reading in the hand-held device for manually read meters. Unfortunately, with over 6,000 accounts to read and bill each month, it can be difficult for CUI to spot these types of errors before the bill reaches the customer.
Any time a customer raises a concern that their meter may have been misread, CUI is able to manually reread the meter. The water meter, independent of being a remotely-read or manually-read meter, measures and records the water flowing through it correctly and sends the information to a radio transmitter by means of an electrical impulse. If the electronic device malfunctions, usually due to the wire being broken or the battery running out, a manual read can be taken from the dials. The reading from the manual dials on the meter is always the official reading and will be used to adjust the customer’s bill if there is a problem. A manual read will let us know if there have been any previous billing errors due to incorrectly recorded readings.
For more information on how to read your water meter, please go to our page for Residential Customers and scroll down to the section “How to read your meter”.
The water meter design does not allow for tampering. Anybody who tries to adjust the dial, or change the accuracy of the meter will damage it. Much like an automobile or other mechanical device, the meter can slow down with age and eventually stop registering completely, but it cannot arbitrarily run faster and record more water flow than passes through it. The mechanical parts are not capable of “speeding up” or registering a significantly higher reading than actual.
All meters are calibrated and tested in the factory before they are shipped. The American Water Works Association (AWWA) requires meters to be within 98.5% and 101.5% accuracy to be usable (an error rate of 1.5% low or high). This means that if your perfectly accurate usage was 10 m3 (10,000 liters), the registered consumption could be 0.15 m3 (150 liters) high or low per 10 m3 each month and be within AWWA guidelines.
To put this in perspective, if you had an average billed consumption of 18 m3, you could have used a minimum of 17.73 m3, or 0.27 fewer m3 per month if the meter was running fast but still be within AWWA guidelines. Over a year, this would amount to a total overbilling of 3.24 m3. Using CUI’s 2018 rates, this would result in an excess charge of $4.31 for an entire year if those volumes were billed as Tier 1 to a high of $8.68 per year if those volumes were billed at Tier 2. On the contrary, you also could be just as easily be undercharged the same amount based on this acceptable meter variance. As described above, this is more likely as low reads occur when meters age. Rarely (not once in CUI’s history) has a meter tested high enough to exceed 100% and significantly more often the meter slows down to a point where it under-registers and will eventually stop.