Water meter troubles

Submitted for your consideration:
I have a 43 year old park in South Texas with 75 lots on 14 acres. 50 of the lots are occupied. The park has a master meter for city water and, what I believe are, 43 year old individual meters on each lot. The master meter reads an average of 11,000 g/day of water usage but the sum of the individual meters is only 4,000 g/day on average. I’ve found and fixed a few obvious leaks but this hasn’t made a significant dent in the disparity. Could the age of the individual meters account for such a huge difference? Or is it possible to have a leak or leaks that large and not see evidence of them? Opinions are appreciated.

As water meters age they register less water passing through them. So the difference could be meter wear. 11000 per day is only 200 gal per home not crazy high. 80 to 200 gal per home is not unusual. Your options are to pull a few meters and check them. If they show lots of unmetered water it may be time to replace them. How many gallons/ cubic ft have been through them? You may be able to request that the city checks the accuracy of the main meter as well.

Might want to check all meters are using the same unit of measurement. Some meters are in gallons, some are in cubic feet.

1CF = about 7.5 gallons

Thanks for the responses. These meters are all the same, Master Meter brand meters, and they measure US gallons.

I’m slowly becoming comfortable with the idea that these really old meters are just wildly inaccurate. I plan to change them out with Badger LP nutating disc meters. I’ll do a dozen at a time to keep it affordable. The cost per meter installation looks to be about $150. $63 for the meter, $37 for a brass locking valve, $20 for couplings/adapters/tax and $30 for the plumber. The lockable valve is optional but we’ve had a few instances of residents helping themselves to water.

we have the badger beacon system and love them. uses the lp meter you are looking at but has a cellular end point. reads automatically every day and we can tell down to the hour how much each unit is using. they do slow way down the older they get

Shut off all main water valves going into the homes, then monitor the master meter for flow. That will answer most of your questions.

The main municipal meter is probably a large 2 or 3 inch, reading in the nearest 1,000’s, again double check the main meter when you receive the bill, inaccurate reads are rampant. Larger meters loose the low water volume flow.

As far as your sub-meters, most meters are accurate till @ 15 years, a faulty meter will not move (dial doesn’t move) or will read slow (doesn’t capture all of the water flow). Up to 200 gallons person per month is considered normal.

When replacing meters be sure to flush the line prior to installing the meter; A backflow protector at each meter maybe required by code.

Always consider a third party billing company for compliance to all local and state sub-metering regulations.
Let me know if I can be help.


Thanks for the responses.

I’ve looked briefly at the Beacon system. I really like the idea of having this much data in almost real time. I’m thinking it could pay for itself over time in faster leak detection and less plumber time. It looks like each meter needs an endpoint at about $80 each and there is an $.89 per meter/month connection fee. Are there setup fees?

Thanks for the advice. The problem is that my municipal meter only reads in 1000’s of gallons. It’s difficult to tell much in a short period of time. I may end up adding my own large meter just downstream from the city’s so I can do exactly what you suggest.

You’re exactly right, we have a 3" municipal meter which reports 1,000’s of gallons. The city recently replaced our old meter with a new Sensus Omni meter. I was hoping that the old meter was the problem but, unfortunately, the readings are consistent. Anyway, I now have my manager take a picture of the meter with her cell phone on the city’s meter reading day.

setup fees are around $4,000. the nice part is its a one time fee, and we have several parks using the beacon system.

It is quite possible to have a leak in a park that size and age and not be aware of it. You won’t necessarily have water coming up to the surface.

I would recommend calling a leak detection service; if you do have a leak, you’re going to have to deal with it anyway, and it might be that you don’t need to go to the expense of new meters. Fix the leak first, then consider new meters.
We used American Leak Detection, and found four unsuspected leaks, some underneath trailers. Money well spent! I believe they are nationwide, but call around, YMMV.