Updates on City of San José Services and/or Operations . (English | Español | Tiếng Việt | 中文)

Why Read Your Water Meter?

Your water meter can be a great tool for saving water and keeping your water bills low. Reading your water meter can help you detect potentially expensive leaks and learn about your usage.

Finding Your Meter

  • Your water meter is typically located in the ground, near the curb or sidewalk, inside a concrete box measuring about 15 inches by 20 inches.
  • Use a screwdriver or other tool to lift the lid of the box and access your water meter.


Your water meter reads like the mileage indicator on your car. Your meter's counter displays six numbers.

The four numbers on the left are a record of your water usage in Hundred Cubic Feet (HCF or CCF). One HCF is equal to 748 gallons, and is the unit of water that appears on your bill. The two numbers on the far right do not appear on your water bill, but are useful for observing water use.

1. To determine your water usage, subtract the previous reading from the current reading.

Today's reading: 142
Previous reading: -122
Total Usage since previous reading: 20 HCF


2. Multiply the number of HCF by 748 to convert to the number of gallons used.

20 HCF x 748 gallons per HCF = 14,960 gallons


  • If you would like to check for leaks, turn off all water indoors and outdoors, including all water-using appliances, before you begin.
  • Near the center of the display is a colored triangle or asterisk. This triangle or asterisk is a leak detector because it turns whenever water is running through the meter. Observe the triangle or asterisk for five minutes to see if it turns.
  • If it turns while you are not using water, you have a leak. In San José, leaks must be fixed within five days.
  • If the triangle and dial hand do not show any movement, you don’t currently have any leaks. Good news!
  • Find out how to fix water leaks and improve water efficiency.


You can use your meter to determine how much water it takes to water your lawn, wash your clothes, take a shower, etc.

  • Write down the meter reading, including all digits on the meter, before you start using water.
  • Start the activity you wish to measure, making sure that nothing else is using water at the same time.
  • When the activity is over, read your meter once again.
  • Subtract the old meter reading from the new meter reading.
  • The difference in the two meter reads tells you how many cubic feet were used by the activity.

Questions about reading your meter? Contact your water retailer. Look up your water retailer.