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How Meters Are Read
Reading Water Meters is Easy, Right?
Reading a water meter looks pretty easy. You could probably read your water meter in just a few minutes. But how about over 5,000 water meters? All 5,000 plus water meters in Portland are read every month.

The city is divided into 18 geographic routes for meter reading purposes. Your water meter is read about the same date each month for billing, give or take a day or two, depending on weather conditions, emergency water breaks, weekends and holidays.

If something is blocking access to the water meter box, repeat visits are made to obtain a meter reading or the customer is contacted prior to billing. If the meter cannot be read an average reading is billed. Meters are normally read between the hours of 7:30 am and 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. City meter readers are identified by a shirt with the city logo on it.

Handheld Meter ReaderHow Do They Collect All Those Meter Readings?
For 15 years now, the meter readers have used handheld computers to capture meter readings. When the meter reader enters the reading, the computer quickly calculates the amount of water used and compares it with water usage for the previous month. If the current water usage exceeds the previous water usage by more than expected, the computer alerts the meter reader, who must then re-read the meter and re-enter the meter reading. This is this first audit of the meter reading.

In the spring of 2010, the city began installing its second generation meter reading system. This Fixed Network System eliminates the need to send a person to physically read the meter. A unit called a Radio Read (meter transmitting unit) is attached by wire to an electronic meter register.
What Does a Meter Reading Look Like?
The City uses several brands of water meters. All have a meter register that looks very much like the odometer in your car, and have six or seven digits to read.

The meter readings are read in hundreds or thousands of gallons. The billing system is programmed to take these meter readings and calculate the correct water usage in hundreds of gallons.