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Water Administration
1212 5th Street, 3rd Floor
Santa Monica, CA 90401

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Your Water Meter

Location of the Meter Box

The water meter is generally located in the parkway, near the curb in front of your home or in the alley to the rear of your home. Meters are typically housed in a concrete box below grade with a concrete, composite, or steel cover.

Meter Box in Parkway:

 meter-box-parkway-1        meter-box-parkway-2

Meter in Alley:

 meter-alley-1        meter-alley-2

Reading the Water Meter

Carefully remove the meter box cover (a tool such as a large screw driver can help with this) and visually examine the area around the meter to ensure there are no harmful insects or other animals.

Water meters in Santa Monica measure volume in cubic feet. One cubic foot of water is equal to 7.48 gallons, while one hundred cubic feet is equal to 748 gallons. Water charges are calculated in hundreds of cubic feet, therefore every 748 gallons is equivalent to one billing unit or HCF (hundreds of cubic feet).

There are two basic types of water meters, the "straight reading meter," which resembles the odometer of an automobile, and a "round reading meter," which is composed of several separate dials. The "straight reading meter" is the most common in the City.

How to Read a Straight Reading Meter

In the meter shown, the reading is taken from numbers shown below 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. We bill in units of 100 cubic feet and therefore would read this meter as 817.

  Straight Meter
The key features of the straight water meter are the flow indicator (green arrow) and meter register (red arrow). The flow indicator rotates whenever water flows through the water meter, even when water flow is just a trickle. The speed of the flow indicator corresponds to the speed water flow. This can be used to detect if there is a leak on your property. The meter register is rotating needle that measures water use to the nearest hundredth of a cubic feet. One full rotation of the meter register will increase the last digit in reading by one cubic foot.    Neptune Meter
How to Read a Round - Reading Meter

This meter is an older style and is much less common, but there are still these types of meters in service. This type of meter has several small dials and is a little more difficult to read than a straight reading meter. The dials are marked off in divisions of 10 and are read much like a clock, except that the hand on every other dial turns counterclockwise. To read this meter, begin with the 100,000 dial and read each dial around the meter to the one foot dial. If the hand is between numbers, use the lower number. Therefore, the dials on the register read 806323. For the purpose of billing the read would be 8063.

       Round Meter
How to Read a Digital Meter

Digital meters have 9 digits on the face. The last five digits on the right side measure from 1/1000 cubic feet to 10 cubic feet. The next series of numbers to the left is the number of billing units that have passed through the meter. Those are the numbers used to calculate your usage.

How Do I Turn Off My Water?

The fastest way to shut your water off is to locate your shut off valve, typically placed on the side of your home or structure. This valve is on your property. It may be located near the hose bib, irrigation or pool controls. Every home or structure is required by code to have its own property shut off valve. This will help minimize water damage on property in cases of emergencies where the water is leaking.

If you do not have a property shut-off or cannot locate it, you will need to contact the Water Resources Division. The City shut off is located inside the meter box and can be operated by City personnel ONLY. Any damage to the City valve, water meter or service will be billed to the account holder. Our response time is typically 30 minutes depending on circumstances. Appointments for water shut down can be scheduled in advance. There will be a charge if there is no property shut-off valve or an existing valve is non-operable. The shut-off charge will be waived if a new property shut-off valve is installed or the existing valve is repaired. If the leak is before a working property shut-off valve, there will be no charge.

If you are experiencing a leak at a fixture (kitchen sink), there are small shut-off valves located underneath that can be used for a shut down in cases of emergencies or repair.

Water Meter Permit Process

At this point in the process you should have your Water Meter Permits paid for and in your possession. You are responsible to schedule the installation of meters/water services once the permits have been issued. The Water Resources Division reserves a 90 working day scheduling window for the installation of meters/services. Time frames depend on size of job, location, weather and scheduling. Please do not schedule your installation too early in your project due to the possible damage of new services while heavy construction is in progress. Once your project is ready please do the following.

  1. Contact the Water Resources Division at 310-458-8535 to request the processing of the Water Meter Permits for the project in question.
  2. After the information for the project has been verified paperwork will be generated for the project and sent to the Construction Supervisor.
  3. An appointment must be scheduled with the Water Resources Division Construction Supervisor to meet on-site and do a walk through. Although you have an appointment you must make sure steps one and two are completed before you meet at the project. Contact 310-458-8535 to schedule your on-site appointment.
  4. At this meeting, scheduling and your requirements will be determined. You will need to contact the Water Resource Division to initiate your Water Final Inspection once your project is complete.

For any further questions please contact the Water Resources Division at 310-458-8535.

Checking for Leaks

The little triangle wheel on the face of the meter is the low-flow indicator. If the meter does not have the triangle then the red sweep hand can be used as a flow indicator too. To check for leaks, turn off all water sources inside and outside the building. When all water is turned off, the low-flow indicator or red sweep hand should not move. If the flow indicator is moving there is water flowing somewhere on property. Turn off your property shut off valve (usually located in line with the water meter near the building). If the flow indicator stops then you know your leak is somewhere past this point in the building. If the flow continues then the leak is between the property valve and the meter.

One of the biggest surprises to most customers and plumbers is that a small leak or toilet leak could increase the usage considerably. The leak chart should put that all into perspective and demonstrate how much water can be lost through a small leak. Suspected toilet leaks can be confirmed by adding food coloring to the water in the tank. If the dye travels into the toilet bowl after several minutes, then you have a leaking flapper valve.

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200 Santa Monica Pier, Suite J, Santa Monica, CA 90401