Tahoe City Public Utility District
Water Meter Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I know how much water I am using?
Your monthly bill will show you how much water you used for the previous month. In addition, beginning June 1, 2009 your bill will include your monthly usage during the previous 12 months for comparison. You can also read your water meter periodically and record the reading and date. For information on how to read your meter see FAQ #6.
2. I would like to monitor my water meter, how can I do that?
You can periodically read your meter, record the reading and date, and then subtract the previous reading to determine your usage over that period of time. The District also offers the use of a remote reading device that we can lend to you at no cost for up to two weeks. The device is programmed to read your meter by radio and can be placed somewhere in your house or garage in a convenient location. You can retrieve your meter reads as often as you like without having to access your water box. The District will program, deliver and set up the device for you. We will collect a $75 deposit at the time of set up. If you wish to keep the device, we will simply keep your deposit to purchase a replacement unit for our inventory.
3. How can I estimate what my water bill will be?
Beginning June 1, 2009 your monthly bill will have a breakdown of your water consumption and base rate charges. In addition, you can visit the District's water rate calculator on our website at:
4. How can I tell how much water my irrigation system is using?
If you are familiar with how to read your water meter (see FAQ #6), then try this. Open the lid and make your meter register visible. Activate one of your irrigation zones, and return to the meter. Wait a couple of minutes to insure your sprinklers are free from air and steady. Use a stopwatch to time how many gallons are being used in one minute. You can do this by starting your stopwatch when the large pointer on the meter dial passes 0. When your timer reaches one minute, immediately check the position of the pointer. If the pointer started at 0 and ended up at 6, then that irrigation zone is using 6 gallons per minute. If the pointer passed 0 again before one minute was up, it would be 10 gallons, plus the number the pointer was at when one minute is up. Once you establish how many gallons per minute that zone is using, check to see how many minutes that zone is running, multiply the number of minutes and the number of gallons per minute observed above. This will give you the total gallons used for that particular zone per cycle. Repeat for all of the remaining zones to determine how much water one full irrigation cycle uses. Multiple this by the number of days per month your irrigation is running to determine how much water will be used by irrigation each month. Refer to FAQ # 3 to see what the cost for this water will be.
5. How do I check for water leaks?
Even if you don't see any obvious leaks around the house, it is helpful to occasionally check for leaks using your meter. The best time to do this is when your household has few people around and you can leave or not use any water for about an hour or more. First, locate your meter box, open it up and view your meter register. Walk through your house and outside areas and make sure nothing is leaking, or using any water, and turn off all hose bibs, etc. If you are confident there is no water use return to your meter and check the reading. Record the meter odometer reading and record the location of the big red pointer. Make sure until you return to read the meter that nobody uses any water indoors or out. Return to your meter after at least an hour and perform the same readings as above. If pointer did not move and the numbers on the odometer are the same, you do not have a leak. If the pointer or odometer has advanced, you may have a potential leak. The next step is to isolate where the leak might be. If you have a shutoff valve under your house, the next step is to shutoff the valve under the house and perform the same test as above. If the meter continues to advance, your leak is most likely somewhere between the meter box and your shutoff valve. If the meter stops advancing, the leak is most likely somewhere in your house.
6. How do I read my water meter?
Find your meter box, which is typically located in the front of your property near one of the side property lines with your neighbor. Homes in the Highlands subdivision may have their boxes located in the easement behind the home. The meter box will typically be a rectangular concrete box with a concrete/cast iron lid marked “water”. In some areas the box may be identified by a round 18” diameter cast iron lid marked “ water meter.” The TCPUD maintains records of your water box location and can be contacted for further assistance if you cannot find your box. Carefully remove the water box lid using a large screwdriver or other tool. Please take great care in not damaging the meter, transmitter or associated wires. Those with the 18” diameter round meter box must carefully remove the bracket holding the transmitters and then remove the large green foam plug to view the meters. These items must be properly replaced to avoid freeze damage or improper operation.
Once you have the box open you will see the top of the meter, and then lift the protective cover to expose the meter face. On the face of the meter you will see a large dial, a small red star wheel and a set of numbers similar to a cars odometer. The large dial typically reads gallons, the small star wheel is used to detect leaks and minor usage, and the odometer reads total gallons used. Read the odometer left to right, including the fixed zero on the far right. This is your total gallons used. Record the reading and then compare it to your latest bill, or re-read your meter within the next day or two to determine your daily consumption. If you suspect you have a leak, you will notice constant or intermittent movement in the small red star wheel. Inspect all your fixtures, toilets, faucets, hose bibs and irrigation and isolate or repair as appropriate. If the star wheel continues to move, you may have a leak somewhere underground.
7. How do I know if my meter is accurate?
Today's modern meters are extremely accurate. Most meter inaccuracies are due to age and wear and yield a reading that is less than what was actually used. If you suspect your meter reading is too high, there are a few things to check. Take your last monthly bill and look at the current meter reading on the bill. Compare it to your meter read today. (See FAQ #6 in how to read your meter). If today's meter read is less than what your bill says, please contact us to investigate. If there are two meters in your meter box, run a hose bib at your house to observe which meter is yours. You can also check your meter accuracy by simply running water until your meter pointer is at zero. Insuring that nothing else is using water in the house , accurately fill a one or two gallon container and return to your meter to see if it the pointer moved the appropriate amount. Each number on the clock face of the meter dial represents one gallon. If you accurately dispensed one gallon, the pointer should have incremented by approximately one gallon.
8. My bill says I have a potential leak, what do I do?
The first thing to do is to check your water meter for any indications of a leak. See FAQ #5 and #6. Check our website link for a leak repair checklist: http://www.tahoecitypud.com/download/utilities/leakchecklist.pdf . If you determine your leak is inside your home, check all of your toilets, faucets, showers and under your home for any leaks. If you determine the leak is outdoors, check your irrigation, and remote hose bibs. If you do not find anything, you may have a leak underground. Contact a local licensed plumber to investigate.
9. I hear water running in my pipes, what do I do?
You may have a potential leak somewhere on your property. Perform the steps in FAQ #5 and #8.
10. I need to find my water box, where is it located?
Your meter box is typically located in the front of your property near one of the side property lines with your neighbor. Homes in the Highlands subdivision may have their boxes located in the easement behind the home. The meter box will typically be a rectangular concrete box with a concrete/cast iron lid marked “water”. In some areas the box may be identified by a round 18” diameter cast iron lid marked “water meter.” The TCPUD maintains records of your water box location and can be contacted for further assistance if you cannot find your box.
Water Conservation Frequently Asked Questions
1. How much water use is normal indoors?
According to the American Water Works Association, before implementing basic water conservation techniques, the average indoor use is approximately 60 to 70 gallons per day per person. That translates into approximately 3,600 to 4,200 gallons per month for two people or 7,200 to 8,400 gallons per month for a family of four. Simple conservation measures can typically result in a 15-20 percent reduction in this number. Please see FAQ #3 for more information.
2. How much water use is normal outdoors?
It is extremely difficult to determine how much outdoor water use is normal. It varies greatly depending on amount of turf, types of plants, type of irrigation system, soil type and weather. There are many resources on the internet to assist you with proper landscape maintenance. Also you may contact any qualified landscape contractor in the area for further assistance .
3. What can I do to conserve water indoors?
Check your toilets for leaks
Install a hot water recirculation system and/or insulate your hot water pipes.
Rinse your razor in the sink
Check faucets and pipes for leaks
Minimize use of kitchen sink garbage disposal units
4. What can I do to save water outdoors?
Don't run the hose while washing your car
Clean the car using a pail of soapy water. Use an automatic shutoff spray nozzle when rinsing for more efficient use of water.
Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways and sidewalks
Check for leaks in pipes, hoses, faucets and couplings
5. I like to water my yard to keep the threat of fire down, is that a good idea?
Simply watering your yard is not the answer to protecting your home from a wildfire. To reduce the fire risk around your home, use basic defensible space techniques. For more information on Defensible Space, please contact your local fire protection district or visit the following website: http://www.livingwithfire.info/tahoe/
7. How much water does a lawn need?
A well maintained lawn typically requires an average of 1-inch of water per week. This is approximately 65 gallons per week per 100 square feet of lawn. The cooler spring and fall will require less than this and mid-summer will typically require a little more. Don't over irrigate just too green up isolated dry spots. If the majority of your lawn is getting enough water, consider hand watering dry spots versus increasing irrigation times for the whole lawn. Thoroughly rake or dethatch your lawn every spring to remove dead grass. Aerate annually to relieve soil compaction and allow water and oxygen to penetrate into the root zone as well as allowing roots to penetrate deeper as well. Do not irrigate between the hours of 8:00 AM and 11:00 PM. Do not irrigate turf every day. Visit the following website for more information: http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/DG2364.html
8. How often should I water my lawn or landscaping?
Only irrigate three to four times per week for longer periods. This will allow water to saturate deeper and promote deeper root depths. Deeper root depths provide better protection from heat stress, and disease, and greatly improve the appearance of a plants and lawn.
9. What kind of landscaping can I do that won't use a lot of water?
Many beautiful shrubs and plants thrive with far less watering than other species. Native plants will use less water and be more resistant to local plant diseases. Consider applying the principles of xeriscape for a low-maintenance, drought resistant yard. Plant slopes with plants that will retain water and help reduce runoff. Contact your local nurseries for more information on the types of landscapes and plants that use less water. There are many qualified local landscape contractors who can assist you with design and installation of water friendly landscape designs.
Below are some helpful FAQs:
Who is my water
Where does my
water come from?
Does the TCPUD
add any chemicals to the water?
Does the TCPUD
add fluoride to my water?
My water pressure
is too low, can you increase it?
How do I winterize
the water system in my house?
Where is my
water meter/shutoff box located?
How can I locate
my water service box in the winter time?
Who is responsible
for locating and maintaining my water meter/shutoff box and
the water line from the box to the house?
What is the
TCPUD responsible for?
What does the
TCPUD do to ensure that my drinking water is safe?
the sewer flow from my house end up?
Why do I get
two sewer bills?
of waste or household items should or should not be disposed
of in the sewer system?
My sewer backed
up, and the plumber who came out and cleared it said I have
roots in my line. What can I do about that?
fats, oil or grease NOT be put into the sewer system?
How do I keep
cooking grease, fats and oils from going down the drain?
Where are my
sewer cleanouts located?
I have a sewer
easement on my property, what does this mean?