top of page

Reading Your Meter


The triangle shown on the meter is a leak detector. If it is rotating when all of the water is off, you may have a leak in your plumbing.

You can read your meter any time to determine if your current water use is more than your average use. The meter is read from the left, not counting the numbers in black.

To track your water use, you can download the Meter Reading Log Form [pdf] here.

If you know how to read your water meter, you can determine a great deal about water usage in your home or business.  Most meters are located in a concrete box near the front curb or along the road frontage.   To read your meter, remove the lid on the concrete box and flip up the cap that covers the meter face. 

The meter face has a sweep hand, register, and a leak detector.  The sweep hand represents gallons of water used, with each full revolution of the hand equaling 10 gallons of water.  The register, which resembles the odometer in your car, records the total amount of water that has passed through the meter.  The leak detector (the small triangle on the meter face) spins whenever water is passing through the meter. Even very small amounts of water passing through the meter, like a faucet or toilet leaking, will cause the leak detector to spin.

AMWC water meters measure water usage in gallons.  The digits on the meter register are read from left to right.  The numbers with the white background (beginning with the fourth digit from the right of the register) are read by AMWC to determine water usage for billing purposes, since AMWC bills for water usage in 1000-gallon increments.  The numbers on the black background measure water use under 1,000 gallons and are not used for billing.  To determine how much water you have used since your last water bill, compare the numbers on the white background to the previous month’s reading appearing on your water bill.  The difference between these two readings is your water usage in 1,000’s of gallons.

Read Your Meter



Shareholders are responsible for maintaining all piping and other facilities downstream of the meter and for all water that passes through the meter.   AMWC is only responsible for maintaining the water service between the water main and the water meter.

diagram of residential water service

NOTE: Property owners who damage the angle stop will be charged for the cost of repairs.

Location of owner-maintained service line to be determine by owner.

Protecting Your Pipes from Freezing Temperatures


Take the following precautions to help prevent your pipes from freezing and possibly bursting: 

  • Wrap all exterior pipes with insulation 

  • Turn off any exterior water that you will not be using this winter 

  • Drain any exterior lines you will not need to use, such as irrigation lines 


Never leave home if your pipes are frozen, as a leak could have developed in your pipes and may not be detectable until after the pipes thaw. If you are planning to leave town when temperatures could dip into the freezing range, you may want to shut the water service off at your house.  This could prevent flooding in your home (not to mention a large water bill) if a pipe freezes and breaks while you’re away. 


If your home is equipped with fire sprinklers, please consult with a fire protection technician before turning the water off!



Leaks (Do-it Yourself Leak Detection)


Leaks can be very expensive and can cause significant property damage, so if you suspect a leak, it is important to make a thorough investigation to determine its source.  

How to Check for Leaks

Toilet Leaks

This simple procedure can be used to detect leaks anywhere in your home or business.

  • Turn off all water inside and outside your home, making sure that no water is used during the test period.

  • Check the meter's leak detector. If the leak detector is moving, water is still passing through the meter. The faster the detector turns, the larger the volume is of water passing through the meter.

  • If a leak is detected, check for dripping indoor faucets and outdoor hose bibs, leaking toilets, broken pipes, or leaking irrigation system.

Very slow leaks through a toilet may not cause the leak detector to spin. Sometimes, these slow leaks cause a toilet to mysteriously flush on its own, which is caused by the slow draining of the toilet tank. The following procedure can be used to detect these very slow leaks:

  • Put several drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. Don't use the the toilet for 20 minutes.

  • After 20 minutes, check the toilet bowl to see if colored water has escaped from the tank into the bowl.

  • If colored water appears in the bowl, the toilet probably has a flapper-valve leak, which will require adjustment or replacement to correct the problem.

How to Find Leaks in Your Irrigation

The following are some signs that you may have a leak in your irrigation system:

  • Taller, greener vegetation or moss growing around sprinkler heads is a possible sign of a dirty or damaged valve. Clean grit from the valve and replace worn parts.

  • Wet spots, mud, and eroding soil may indicate a broken pipe or riser.

  • Dry spots in your lawn could mean that a sprinkler head is damaged or pipes supplying the head are damaged.

  • Wet spots or muddy areas around valves may mean loose connections or worn washers or rubber gaskets.

Leak Detection

Water Pressure

Water pressure is typically measured in pounds per square inch (psi).   The pressure at your property depends on its relationship to the AWMC water storage tank that serves it.  For instance, if the elevation of your home is close to the tank’s elevation, your water pressure will be lower.  The lower your home’s elevation in relation to the tank, the higher your water pressure.  A good rule of thumb is to assume a 1/2-psi increase in water pressure for each foot of elevation below a tank.  For example, if the water pressure at your home is 50 psi, you can assume that your home is approximately 100-feet in elevation below the tank serving it.  Most areas served by AMWC have water pressures above 80 psi due to the mountainous terrain.

High Pressure

Low Pressure

Pressure-reducing valves (regulators) are often installed on the customer-side of the water meter to keep the water pressure in your home within an acceptable range (50 – 60 psi).  These devices are usually installed where the water service enters the house. 

If you are experiencing high water pressure, you may have a malfunctioning pressure regulator.

Symptoms of high pressure include:

  • Clanging, rattling, or humming pipes when a faucet, dishwasher, or washing machine suddenly shuts off the flow of water (called “water hammer")

  • Water heater pressure-relief valve malfunctions

  • Recurring leaks

  • Toilets flushing on their own

If your house is located in an area of lower pressure (i.e., in the hills, near the water tank), you will need a booster pump to achieve adequate water pressure. 

Sudden drops in water pressure can be caused by:

  • Water main breaks

  • Leaking service lines

  • A closed valve at the water meter

  • A closed valve at the house

  • Water softener malfunctions

  • Pressure regulator malfunction

  • Booster pump malfunction

If the water pressure decreases slowly or when more than one water fixture or appliance is being used (a toilet being flushed while the shower is running), the cause could be:

  • Reduced water flow/volume due to deteriorated galvanized service line between meter and house

  • Intermittent pressure regulator malfunction

  • Plugged faucet aerators (screens)

Water Pressure
Pressure Regulators

Pressure Regulators


Water mains can deliver water at pressures up to 150 pounds per square inch (PSI) or more.  You can determine your static water pressure by attaching a water-pressure gauge to an outside hose bib (static pressure is measured while no water is being used on the property).

AMWC recommends that you install a pressure regulator at the meter if you live in an area where the water pressure is greater than 60 PSI.  The pressure regulator valve can be adjusted to reduce water pressure to an acceptable range of 50 to 60 PSI. These pressure regulators require periodic maintenance and should be rebuilt or replaced every two years.

Some customers install two pressure regulators so that outdoor hose bibs and sprinkler systems operate at a higher water pressure.  One regulator is installed at the water meter and the other at the house.  The regulator installed at the water meter is adjusted to operate at a higher pressure for outdoor watering uses, while the regulator at the house is adjusted to a lower pressure.

Pressure regulators are purchased, installed, and maintained by the customer.  Although the regulator is the customer’s responsibility, we can assist in determining if your regulator has malfunctioned. Check AMWC's Rebate Program to see if a PRV rebate is currently available or call our office at (805) 466-2428 and a service representative will be happy to assist you.

High Water Use


Here are some common causes of unexplained high water use:

  •  There is/was a leak somewhere in your house or on your property. Examples of this are:

    • A leak in your irrigation system or a broken irrigation valve

    • A broken pipe

    • A dripping faucet

    • A running toilet

    • A hose or drip line was left on

  • Irrigation timer is not programmed properly, i.e., sprinklers are watering too often and/or for too long. Reprogramming may be   necessary if the power has been off. AMWC’s Conservation staff is happy to perform an irrigation audit and assist you in programming your irrigation system timer.

  • Extra people at your house, i.e., friends or family visiting.

  • Someone else was watering while you were on vacation (and watered more than you typically would)

  • Your water softener is cycling too often

Typical indications of a leak are:

  • Hearing water running through pipes when no water is on in the house or on the property

  • Toilet flushing by itself

  • Wet spots in your house or on your property

  • Green grass/vegetation that isn't being watered by you/your sprinklers

Before calling AMWC or a plumber, you may want to check to see if any of the above situations could be the reason for your unusually high water bill/usage.

High Use Adjustments

In some cases, a customer may qualify for a high-use adjustment.

Please visit the High Use Adjustment section of the Billing & Payment page for more information.

High Water Use
bottom of page