How to Read Your Water Meter

There are several reasons why you would want to be able to locate and read your water meter. First, you might be interested in just how much water you use in a day. By reading your meter at the beginning and the end of the day you can compare the two totals and tell how much water you and your family used. The second reason is to check for leaks. If you turn off all the taps in your house, look at your meter and if the needle or a small red or blue triangle is still moving, chances are you have a leak somewhere. Here are some hints to help you find and read your water meter.

Water Meters are typically located in front of your home in a concrete or plastic “meter box.” This box is usually covered with a smaller lid that can be raised or removed to view the meter.

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The meter faces pictured below is typical of meters in Woodburn.

If you read the numbers on your meter and, for instance, they read 34687 cu.\ft. and the next month you read the meter and it now says 34959 cu.\ft., then you have used 272 cu.\ft. of water. (34959 minus 34687 = 272 cu. ft.)

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FYI - to convert to gallons, multiply the cubic feet by 7.48 (example - 100 cubic feet of water equals 748 gallons of water!)

A small red, blue, or black triangle or a needle on the face of the meter is the flow indicator. That triangle will spin or the needle will slowly move if any water is flowing through the meter. This indicator can be useful in leak detection. If the triangle or needle is moving even though all faucets in and around the house are off, then water is moving through the meter. This would indicate that there is a break or leak somewhere in the line or that something is still using water.

Should you have an older meter that does not have a flow indicator, read the meter, noting the exact numbers, make sure no water is being used elsewhere in your house or business, and check the meter again one hour (or more) later. If there has been usage, determined by a higher reading, then you may have a break or leak somewhere in the line or that something is still using water.

Please, do not cut or pull on any wires you find in a meter box. You can damage the meter electronic reading (the meter will still record usage however) and you may be charged for repairs.


In case of a leak in a customer's service line, please make repairs and then call the Finance Department at (503) 982-5222. Finance will notify Water Maintenance after the leak is repaired. The Billing representative will send the leak adjustment information to the Engineering Division for analysis and adjustment.

If a leak in the City’s main line is observed, please call the City to report the location as soon as possible, or call the Police Department at (503) 982-2340 during non-work hours. (Unless the leak is a major one, please do not call 911.)