Water Update

It’s been so warm here the past few days, I thought it would be a good idea to water my grass. I’m sure it needed the moisture — this has been a very dry year for us, with only a few piddly snow days — and it also gave me an excuse to spend time outside in the sun as well as reacquaint myself with my yard. A few sprouts are showing — mostly the larkspur that I’ve been trying to naturalize, which is good. What I mean is that it’s good there are a few sprouts and it’s also good that there aren’t more of them. The last frost typically comes the first week in May, so there would be plenty of time for the weather to kill off any baby plants that were so foolhardy as to show their faces. (Larkspur aren’t foolhardy, just hardy. They don’t seem to mind the cold as much as other new sprouts do.)

In other water-related news, I received my water bill yesterday, and this one is as mystifying as the pervious bill that showed a 19,000-gallon usage over my normal winter usage. When the people in the office saw that high usage, they sent the meter reader out to read the meter again. (It’s a fairly new meter, an electronic meter that was installed at the end of summer.) When he took a new reading, he said the meter was working perfectly and that there were no leaks, but the meter had already shown a usage of 3,000 gallons since the previous reading a few days before.

I called the office, of course, and they said the meters were guaranteed to work perfectly without error, and she told me I had to have an intermittent leak, like from a toilet that didn’t shut off. She wouldn’t listen when I explained that there was no problem with my plumbing, but a week later, she did send the meter reader out again. He shoveled the snow off the meter (this was right after the only real snowstorm we had all winter), took another look, and said the meter wasn’t running, which indicted there were no leaks. He had me go inside and run the water for a minute, and the meter showed a gallon usage, so he decided that meant the meter was working fine.

He suggested that someone might have stolen the water, but there was no outside tampering, no digging to get to my water pipe, and if by chance anyone had used one of my outside faucets (which I’d sealed off with insulation to keep the pipes from freezing), I would certainly have heard 20,000 gallons of water moving through my pipes. For that much water to be missing, they would have had to run the water continuously for days, and that simply had not happened.

Meantime, my contractor sent someone out to check my plumbing, and they found no leaks, no water, no anything to indicate what had happened to the more than 20,000 gallons of water that were now missing.

So nothing was done. The people in the office insisted the meter was working fine and that I must have leak. The meter reader said the meter was working fine, but there was no leak. The contractor said there was no leak, the problem was with the meter. I paid the inflated bill anyway, because the only thing worse than excess water would be no water.

So, fast forward to the latest bill.

This time, the overuse was about 3500, all of which had occurred between the time of the original reading to the time of second rereading. The last ten days of the billing period — from the second rereading to the final reading — showed my normal winter water usage of about 30 gallons a day.

Now I’m stuck without any recourse, because obviously, whatever set the meter off somehow self-corrected. My surmise is that the first subzero cold spell we had made the electronic meter go haywire, but who knows what the truth is. All I can do is hope that the meter continues to work properly and to monitor the situation in case it doesn’t.

I have taken away a lesson from all of this — if the people at the water company are not concerned about a hypothetically missing 20,000 gallons of water in a drought year, then I’m not concerned about wasting water by watering my lawn in the winter.


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5 Responses to “Water Update”

  1. Estragon Says:

    Electronics can get cranky in the cold. The city here changed the local streetlights to LEDs a few years ago. Laudable in terms of energy savings, but they go reliably wonky when it gets really cold. Sometimes newer doesn’t mean better, and sometimes it takes a while for us to figure that out.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m wondering if I should stuff some insulation on top of the meter next winter . . .

      • Estragon Says:

        I’d be cautious doing that unless you got the utility to agree (preferably in writing). Electronics can generate heat, sometimes enough to damage themselves. The enclosures are designed to reduce this risk, and the utility might try to make you pay for replacement if it fails (whether the insulation actually contributed to the failure or not).

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          Good point. Thanks for the tip. I do know they just stuck the new electronic meter in the hole in place of the old standard meter, and there really is no protection from the elements except one cover that doesn’t even fit. If the problem continues, I’ll ask them if they will insulate the meter.

  2. Judy Galyon Says:

    We had been thru water leaks, so I understand where you are coming from. Life can really get rough at times.

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