How to read your water meter?

A number of people have asked how one reads the water meter.  Confused by the number of dials, spinning wheels and then the bar of digital numbers.  What does it all mean?

But first!  Do you know where your water meter is? Do you know how to switch off your supply if a pipe bursts or as happened to my neighbour this week – the flush mechanism of your toilet sticks and gushes drinking water into the toilet bowl.  The drought and stricter water restrictions make it even more critical that we also understand how to read our water meters and how to use them to check for leaks.   If you switch off all taps and the little black wheel is turning – then the chances are you have a leak.

See the diagramme of my old water meter annotated to explain what all the dials do!

How to read water meter

Apply for Cape Town eservices so that you can enter your water readings yourself on a specific date then your bill will take into account all liters used not just the kilo liters. Subscribing to an sms reminder service will let you know when you are due to take and enter a reading.

Our Constitution identifies access to clean water as one of our human rights. Many municipalities translate this into a free allocation of 6 kilolitres per household per month.

1kl = 1000 litres and 1 m³ (cubic meter of water)

In acknowledgement of the severity of this drought nationally AND understanding that the Climate Change scenarios for South Africa predict more frequent severe droughts, the Dept. of Water Affairs is reviewing the allocation of water by local authorities.   As a result in Cape Town, from 1 July 2017, affluent households will no longer get a FREE allocation of 6 kilolitres.  SEE NEW CHARGES in UPDATE below.  This is intended to encourage a culture of efficient use of water by homes with large gardens and pools and by people who can better afford rain tanks and alternatives to municipal water.  The new charge is also (possibly) the need compensate for the reduced revenue from the decreasing sale of water to pay for maintenance and new water infrastructure when the higher fees associated with the restrictions are lifted.  Hopefully this drought will have a lasting legacy of efficient water use. Many of us have learnt lessons in desperate times!!!

 Xanthea Limberg, CT Mayoral committee member for water services was quoted on Cape Talk as saying that  the higher water tariffs were designed to compensate for reduced consumption so that the City did not loose revenue to maintain the water infrastructure.  However, because of a slow response to the Level 2 and then the Level 3 water restrictions, the City’s revenue from water sales had increased significantly by R2.54 million over the past 12 months.  This extra funding was a welcome injection of money to speed up the City’s repair of old water infrastructure.  

Kim Kruyshaar  02 2017

Update: as of 1 July 2017 and according to the 2017 / 18 approved budget for Cape Town home owners not registered as `indigent’ will be charged R4.56 including Vat per kilolitre of water for the first 6 kilolitres used. The next step from above 6kl to 10kl has a charge of R17.75 per kilolitre.  There are a further 4 consumption steps with increasing charges per kilolitre.  Indigent households will not be charged for the first 6kl but thereafter will be charged at the same rate as non- indigent households.

In addition a new charge for Sanitation (sewage and grey water disposal) has been added.  Previously there was no charge for the first 4kl of sewage / greywater to households.  This equates to 70% of the metered water consumption.  a new sanitation charge of R4.39 per kl up to 4.2kl will be implemented from 1 July 2017.  The next sanitation charge step is from above 4.2kl to 7.35kl and will be charged at R14.98.

What will a home using 6kl of municipal water per month pay? Where in the past you enjoyed free water and paid a maximum of R23.83 for sanitation.  As of 1 July you will be charged R72.76 for water and sanitation combined.


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12 Responses to How to read your water meter?

  1. Robert Higgins February 4, 2017 at 5:56 pm #

    hats wrong the one they mark as liters is 10ths of a liter, from top right counterclockwise its hundreds of liters then tens of liters then liters and the last dial on the left is tenths of a liter. That dial reads 8122 kilo liters 165.65 liters.

    • admin February 5, 2017 at 4:42 pm #

      One revolution is one litre and as you correctly say each position around this dial marks 1/10 of a litre. I have changed the annotation on the diagramme so it is clearer. Thank -you for pointing out the potential confusion.

      • Robert Higgins February 5, 2017 at 5:15 pm #

        Thank you, the way its annotated now is super clear.

  2. Rod Baker May 30, 2017 at 9:53 am #

    What could be useful would be a second image of the same meter, but taken a few days later, showing (obviously) some usage and a calculation for the difference so the reader can see how the dials have moved, and hence how the actual usage is arrived at.

    • admin May 30, 2017 at 5:32 pm #

      Good idea. But as we are using so little water will have to wait a few weeks to see a measurable shift.

  3. Manny June 2, 2017 at 1:23 pm #

    Hi admin.
    Should say “read dials CLOCKWISE”, not “read dials ANTI-CLOCKWISE”.

    • admin June 3, 2017 at 3:52 pm #

      done thanks!

  4. Susan Hugo-Hamman October 30, 2017 at 3:25 pm #

    The spinning disc ‘spins’ all the time even though I am not using any water. Who should I contact about this?

    • admin November 3, 2017 at 2:25 pm #

      hi Susan, sounds as if you may have a leak on your side of the meter and you need to attend to it as soon as possible so as not to waste water and possibly be fined. Do you know where your isolating tap is? If so switch off your water supply and watch what the meter does – it should stop spinning. If not there is potentially a leak between the meter and your tap. As I understand it leaks on your side of the meter are your responsibility – so you need to get a plumber to fix this. Leaks on the city side of the meter are the City’s responsibility – but these leaks should NOT be turning your meter dial. If the leak is somewhere on your property and you can’t see dripping taps or toilets you may need a plumber to find it. To check for yourself – take a reading at night after you have stopped using water and then check again first thing in the morning. See what the consumption difference is – it should be nil.

  5. Speakup November 6, 2017 at 10:16 pm #

    I’m furious! My husband and I really try very hard and save every drop of water that we can. We average 50 litres each per day, and am working on reducing that. 6 months ago when we discovered that our water meter had a slow leak, we reported it to the City of CT immediately and they replaced it immediately. However, without spilling more than a cupful at our gate, they replaced it with a meter which already had a reading of 609 litres on it. I phoned in to complain and emailed and sent photos of the old and new meters on the day of repair, but to no avail. That 609 litres remains for our account. We are paying for an extra 6 days or 20% of a month’s worth of water that we didn’t use! What a slap in the face. Apparently because its less than a kilolitre it doesn’t show up on either council workers readings or the readings that I phoned in. Please can anyone advise me on how I can have these 609 litres reversed off of our account?

    • admin November 6, 2017 at 11:22 pm #

      hi,It looks like sloppy workmanship by the City. The 609 litres will result in you reaching the 1000 ltr mark (1 kilolitre ) much faster and therefore the first payment mile. You can carry on protesting or just accept that you will pay for it – probably at the rate of R4.56 per kilo litre for consumption up to 6 kilo litres. Well done for being a water warrior. If all Captonians used 50litres per day we would reach the City’s target of 500 million litres consumption per day and delay the dreaded D- Day of the dams running dry.

  6. RENEE NEL December 21, 2017 at 8:56 am #

    Dear Admin

    This is an INCREDIBLY helpful article! You have explained everything perfectly! Thank you, THANK YOU for posting it!

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