How to read your water meter

How to read your water meter

Water meters are probably the most misunderstood pieces of equipment in The Woodlands. Learning how to read your water meter can become a useful tool in managing your water use – and that can put more money in your pocket.

The meter measures how much water is delivered to your property and can help residents discover leaks and other water use.

How to find a meter

Meter boxes are located on the front property line. One meter box between two homes can share two meters, or separate meter boxes may be placed side by side.

Checking the meter

Since meter boxes are set into the ground, silt may have accumulated around the meter itself. There may also be debris, like leaves, inside the box. You will probably need a long screwdriver (to pop the lid cover off), and a wet rag (to clean the meter dial). Be careful of critters that may have taken up lodging inside the meter box. The water meter is the big bronze thing in the middle of the box. It may have a black hinged cover.

Flip open the cover. Find the large red sweep hand. This tells the number of gallons of water running through the meter.  When the sweep hand hits “1,” one gallon has run through the meter. When the sweep hand makes one full circle, 10 gallons have passed through the meter. This is only for 5/8 inch meters. Larger meters are different.

A small red triangle sits to the left of the sweep hand. If the triangle is moving, but the sweep hand is still, a small bit of water is still flowing into the property. That could mean you have a leak somewhere.

There is also an odometer-like display on the meter. The fixed number on the meter is a “0.” This is a place holder.  The number describes the total amount of water used since the meter was installed. For instance, if the meter reads “159325,” (remember to add the zero at the end)  then 1,593,250 gallons have flowed through the meter.

Meter flow check

Next, turn off everything that uses water in the home. This includes faucets, dishwashers, water treatment systems and irrigation sprinklers. Double check outdoor spigots and shower heads. Check under kitchen and bathroom sinks for leaks. Do not use any water during this check.

Record the number on the “odometer.” Wait 20 minutes. Record the numbers again. Subtract the first number from the second. If you get a zero, you’re in great shape. However, if you get a zero and the small red triangle is still moving, you are using a small amount of water somewhere on the property. If could be a leaking faucet or a running toilet. It could be a leak somewhere else that is not obvious. Remember, even the smallest amount of water use, say from a dripping faucet, can use up to 5,000 gallons a month.

Sometimes, the meter box may be filled with water. To solve this problem and make an accurate reading, meter readers use a long tube of clear plastic with a clear plastic bottom.  They put the scope right against the meter face. Homeowners can use the same technique to read their own meter. Simply take a clear tumbler and place the bottom on the meter. Look through the mouth of the tumbler. This will allow you to see the meter face clearly.

Who is responsible?

Homeowners are responsible for maintaining their systems from the water meter to the house, and of course, inside the house.

A vital resource

Safe drinking water is a vital resource, with finite availability. The Woodlands is being used by the rest of the state as an example of water conservation, and for the most part, residents of The Woodlands have been proactive in supporting water conservation efforts.

Facts about water in The Woodlands

Facts about water in The Woodlands

The typical homeowner in The Woodlands uses 10,000 gallons of water a month. This includes bathing, showering, brushing teeth, shaving, washing clothes, washing dishes, drinking, cooking and lawn irrigation. During the summer months, lawn irrigation accounts for 50 to 80% of water used.

  • The typical homeowner in The Woodlands uses 10,000 gallons of water a month. This includes bathing, showering, brushing teeth, shaving, washing clothes, washing dishes, drinking, cooking and lawn irrigation. During the summer months, lawn irrigation accounts for 50 to 80% of water used. Unfortunately some homes here use three or four times that amount per month and a number of those homes use more than 10 times that amount.
  • The average lawn size is about 1/5 of an acre in The Woodlands. Although there are larger lawn sizes, there are also smaller lot sizes.
  • There are about 20,000 acres of lawns in The Woodlands.
  • An average of 18,000 pounds of pesticides and 70,000 pounds of chemical fertilizers are applied to our lawns each year.
  • The typical homeowner in The Woodlands spends about $363 per year on their lawn and gardens. That amounts to about $12,000,000 per year – a sizeable sum. The amount spent on lawns in the U.S. exceeds $50 billion.
  • The average homeowner in The Woodlands spends about 208 hours a year caring for their lawn.
  • Grass plants are 75 to 80% water
  • Up to 90% of the weight of a healthy grass plant is in its roots.
  • Grass clippings contain nitrogen and other nutrients which, when left on the ground, will help nourish the plant, reducing, or in some cases, eliminating the need for extra fertilizer.
  • A healthy lawn absorbs rainfall six times more effectively than a wheat field and four times better than a hay field. Healthy lawns also prevent runoff.
  • A single grass plan can have up to 390 miles of roots.

Typical user cost 2016-2017

Woodlands Water customers will see a slight increase in their bills, beginning in September, due to an increase in the Surface Water Conversion fee.

There's some good news too, becasue there will be no change in the water rates charged by the MUDs served by Woodlands Water.

Based on the state of Texas growth projections, by 2060, Montgomery County will require an additional 42 billion gallons per year to provide clean, healthy drinking water to residents, twice the available supply.

Using surface water lowers the need to deplete our already heavily-stressed aquifer systems. Surface water, the two-day-per-week Defined Irrigation Schedule, plus an aware and proactive community have already decreased aquifer stress.

MonthGallons*Charges - Current Rates^^
Charges - New Rates‡
% Change
Jan 5,000 $47.73 $48.47 1.6%
Feb 5,000 $47.73 $48.47 1.6%
Mar 7,000 $58.29 $59.34 1.8%
Apr 8,000 $63.58 $64.77 1.9%
May 10,000 $74.15 $75.64 2.0%
Jun 12,000 $84.71 $86.51 2.1%
Jul 15,000 $100.57 $102.81 2.2%
Aug 15,000 $100.57 $102.81 2.2%
Sep 15,000 $100.57 $102.81 2.2%
Oct 11,000 $79.43 $81.08 2.1%
Nov 7,000 $58.29 $59.34 1.8%
Dec 5,000 $47.73 $48.47 1.6%
Total 115,000 $863.34 $880.52 2.0%

*Assuming a sewer average of 5,000 gallons per month

‡Includes SWC Fee of $2.62 per 1,000 gallons

^^Based on the water rates that started October 1, 2015. Residential Sewer Base remains at $10.50. Residential Sewer Cost per 1,000 Gallons* remains at $4.50

Calculations do not apply for MUD 36.

Four Easy Ways to Pay your Water Bill

Four easy ways to pay your water bill

Four easy ways to pay your water bill.

1 - NO FEE2 - $1.25 FEE3 - NO FEE4 - NO FEE
Automated Phone Payments Online Website Payments Automatic Draft Payment Electronic Third Party Payments
855-H2o-SAVE (855-426-7283) Visa, MC, Discover, AMEX, Bank Account You must use the following address for payee verification:
P.O. Box 7580
Spring, TX 77387-7580
We accept Visa, MC, Discover, AMEX We accept Visa, MC, Discover, AMEX Visa, MC, Discover, AMEX, Bank Account You must use the following address for payee verification:
P.O. Box 7580
Spring, TX 77387-7580

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Lawn Irrigation Weekly

Lawn irrigation weekly

Here are your weekly lawn irrigation recommendations for Monday, August 22 through Sunday, August 28.

VillageTotal Irrigation Recommendation
Alden Bridge 0"
Grogan's Mill 0"
Cochran's Crossing 0"
Indian Springs 0"
College Park 0"
Panther Creek 0"
Sterling Ridge 0"

The Woodlands Weekly Turf Grass Irrigation Recommendations

We've got enough rain to last us for a while. Lawns are drowning. No need to water any more.

If you are familiar with how much your system emits, the official recommendation is 1/2 inch for (1/4 inch per watering day). See here to estimate how long it takes to irrigate.

The two-day-per-week Defined Irrigation Schedule is still in effect.

This information is produced through a partnership between Woodlands Water and the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District.

Take-all patch and other lawn diseases

Take-all patch and other lawn diseases

By Bob Dailey

Fungal problems are a fact of life in Southeast Texas, where fungus is the main disease vector in plants. Actually, most soils here are full of fungal spores. Some are beneficial. Some, harmless. And some, like the fungi that cause take-all patch, brown spot or dollar spot, are problematic. Given the right circumstances, unwanted fungus can explode into a serious situation.

The most common “right circumstances” are:

Improper mowing

Improper mowing, specifically mowing too low. The leaves of any plant are how it makes food. Crew-cutting lawns takes away most of the food-producing grass blades, allows the ground to dry out, and allows too much heat (or cold) to penetrate into the soil, killing beneficial organisms.

Solution: set your lawn mower to the highest mowing level, or ask your lawn service to do it.

Compacted soil

Soil begins to compact when deprived of organic material, micro-organisms, earthworms and other beneficial organisms. Compacted soil exists throughout The Woodlands.

Solution: Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and fertilizers disrupt the soil’s ecosystem, and kill the organisms necessary for good soil.

Unhealthy soil

No microbial or macrobial life in the soil.

Solution: Apply organic material at least twice a year (mid-April and mid-October are the best times). Spread it about ½ to ¾ inch deep and rake it in with a leaf rake. Use a mulching lawnmower. Since most of the grass’s nutrients are in its blades, mulching it back into the soil re-introduces nitrogen, and other materials into the soil. Finally, if not planning to compost leaves, mulch them into the lawn as well.


Too much fertilizer can cause fungal diseases to activate. It can also kill beneficial organisms. Too much fertilizer will green up a lawn quickly, but will not protect it from fungus.

Solution: Use an organic, slow-release fertilizer on your lawn. And avoid using too much. Follow the instructions on the package exactly.

Too much irrigation

Watering lawns every day, or giving a lawn more than an inch of water per week is a sure way to encourage fungal diseases.

Solution: For in-ground sprinkler users, put a rain gauge in each zone (or move it around). If each zone measures an inch, then the irrigation system is set correctly. If the lawn receives more than an inch, reset the controller. It may seem counterintuitive, but using an inch of water (or less if it rains) will actually create a deeper root system and stronger, more disease resistant plants. Woodlands Water offers a rebate of 50% on the purchase and installation of water saving devices, such as rain sensors and ET controllers (with a cap of $150).

The Woodlands Water Agency

The Woodlands Water Agency

2455 Lake Robbins Dr
The Woodlands TX 77380
855-H2o-SAVE (855-426-7283)


For billing, customer service, new service and service disconnections:

For all other inquires:

Hours of Operation:
8:00am to 5:00pm Mon-Fri

For Emergency call
855-H2o-SAVE (855-426-7283)

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For billing, customer service, new service & service disconnections:
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For Emergency call
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