Meter Reading

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Meter FAQs

How does the La Crosse Water Utility read my meter?

The homes in the City of La Crosse have a transmitter register that transmits the reading from the meter when our utility personnel drive by with a computer that "calls out" to the transmitter based on the serial number. This allows the Utility the ability to retrieve your water meter reading without having to enter your home. The meter readings are then downloaded to our billing system.

What is a billing unit?

One billing unit equals 1 Ccf, which is 100 cubic feet and measures out to 748 gallons. Therefore if your family used 20 cubic feet on your bill, you’ve used 14,960 gallons in that quarter.

Where is my water meter located?

Water meters are always located inside the home, normally in the basement or possibly a crawl space. If your home does not have a basement, it may be in a laundry room, in a closet or under a sink. The meter must be located inside and in an area that is heated to prevent the meter from freezing during the winter months.

How do I read my water meter?

Most utility meters used today have a digital type display, with eight digits. To read your meter, you would read the numbers from left to right, but the number of digits you need to know the meter reading used by the Utility varies depending on the size of the meter. For a typical residential meter installation, the meter reading would include the first 4 digits reading from left to right. For further details, see the attached handout on how to read the digital meter. Click here to view the Sensus meter reading cheat sheet (Tina will provide PDF)

Why is it important to know where my water meter is located?

Knowing where your water meter is located should be a priority for all property owners and tenants. If the home is “up to code” there should be a shut-off valve on each side of the water meter. This shut-off valve will stop the flow of water within your home should a plumbing emergency arise. These valves should be “exercised” on occasion to make sure they will work when they’re needed. If your valves don’t work, it is the property owner's responsibility to insure that these valves are functioning properly. If they are not, the property owner would need to contact a plumber to get them repaired.

What if my meter valve does not work in an emergency? Your best course of action is to call a licensed plumber. Maintaining or replacing the shut off valves is the responsibility of the home owner.

Remodeling around your water meter.

When remodeling your basement or home, please remember to keep water meters accessible to the Water Utility. Do not box meters in walls or build shelving units around them. If the utility attempts to exchange a meter that is inaccessible due to being built behind a wall or boxed in, the property owner will have to make the necessary changes to allow access to turn both valves, pull the meter out and put a new meter back in.

Is it time for your meter checkup?

Don’t be surprised if the La Crosse Water Utility personnel mail you a notice, knock at your door or leave a tag on your door, asking for the opportunity to inspect, test or replace your water meter. Wisconsin Public Service Commission, which regulates water utilities, mandates that all meters be tested for accuracy. Currently, residential water meters are to be tested or replaced once every (20) twenty years. This is to ensure that your water usage is correct and represents a fair billing. Generally, the meter exchange is completed within a half-hour.

Helpful hints to make exchange go smoothly:

Water meters are generally located in the basement to prevent freezing in the winter. Keep the area around your meter clear for easy access. Keep the valves on both sides of the meter in good operating condition. Remember that these valves are your property and may be needed in an emergency to shut off the water due to a broken fixture or pipe. Our meter personnel will also need to shut off your water to exchange the meter, so make sure that everyone in your family will be aware of the temporary outage.

The La Crosse Water Utility appreciates your cooperation to allow us to exchange the meter in your home or business.

Meter Maintenance

All water meters will be maintained by the Water Utility in the manner required by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. However, once delivered and installed, the owner of the premises shall be liable for all repairs made necessary by freezing, hot water back-up, damage or negligence on the part of the owner's contractor, the owner, family or tenants and the cost of repairs shall be collected in the same manner as water bills.

Meter Removal

Meters shall be left in the condition and manner as set by the Water Utility and shall not be interfered with in any manner whatsoever. No meter shall be moved or disturbed without special permission from the Water Utility, except that the property owner may order the water shut off and the meter removed if the building is to be vacant.

When premises are to be vacated, moved or torn down the Water Utility shall be notified at once, so that it may remove the meter and shut off the supply at the curb stop. The owner of the premises shall be liable to prosecution for any damage to Utility property by reason of failure to notify the Water Utility of need to discontinue service. When a property is to be demolished, all outstanding City utility charges must be paid before the Utility will sign-off on the demolition permit.

Meter Tampering

When the Water Utility has reasonable evidence that a consumer is obtaining water, in whole or in part, by means of devices or methods used to stop or to interfere with the proper metering of the water service being delivered to the private system, the Water Utility reserves the right to estimate and present a bill for water and sewer service that was unmetered as a result of such interference, and such bill shall be payable subject to a 24-hour notice of disconnection. If the Water Utility shall have disconnected the consumer for any such reason, it will reconnect the consumer only after any and all damages to its equipment due to such stoppage or interference with metering are paid to the Water Utility and the consumer agrees to comply with the requirements of the Water Utility.

Meter location - Property Owner Responsibilities

Meter location and installation - New Construction (Pursuant to La Crosse Municipal Code: Sec. 46-3)

  1. Location.
    1. Each service pipe, by means of which water is delivered by the Water Utility to a consumer (except such service pipes used solely for fire protection) shall be connected with an adequately sized meter to accurately measure the amount of water delivered through such pipe.
    2. It shall be the duty of the owner of any premises to provide a location for the water meter and to maintain such location and passageway thereto clean and sanitary and free from any obstructions or any condition of a hazardous nature. Water meters shall not be located below any stairway, landing, or platform unless there is provided a space not less than four feet above the center line of the water meter supply line. No connection for water meters shall be installed in any location not easily accessible; or which is, or may be, unclean, unsanitary or in any manner hazardous to Water Utility employees in the discharge of their duties. No meter shall be placed in any pit or manhole without special permission from the Board of Public Works or its duly authorized representative.
  2. Installation.
    1. All meters shall be installed in a horizontal setting, where the service pipe enters the building wall or rises through the floor and shall be provided with two gate or other full way valves, one on the supply side and one on the building side of the meter setting.
    2. For all meters of 1½ inches or less in size, the piping for the meter shall allow for a slight horizontal adjustment between the tail pieces of the meter and shall be so installed so that the bottom of the meter will be not less than 12 inches and not more than 30 inches above the adjacent floor level.
    3. All meters two inches or larger in size shall be supported by a steel or concrete stand to be furnished by the owner. The meter shall be set a minimum clear distance away from any wall or immovable object as follows: Two-inch meter: 12 inches; three-inch meter and larger: 14 inches. The bottom of the meter shall be set not less than 18 inches and not more than 36 inches above the adjacent floor level.
    4. All meters 1½ inches or larger in size shall have a by-pass, with a sealed valve, installed around the meter setting and sized as required by the State Plumbing Code.
    5. Whenever a water service pipe is extended to the property beyond the curb stop and properly flushed and tested, a water meter shall be installed immediately. The plumbing shall be so arranged that no water can be taken or supplied to the building and fixtures for which the meter was intended unless it will pass through and be registered by such meter. Licensed plumbers or their employees shall not leave turned on after the completion of work, any water supply not protected by a meter; nor shall any licensed plumber or employee, turn on, except for testing, any supply previously turned off by the Water Utility.
    6. The plumbers who make the service extension shall give the Water Utility at least 24 hours' notice of the time when the piping will be ready for the meter.
    7. No meter will be left at or installed in any premises unless the proper "Water Request" forms are signed or can be signed at the site by the legal owner of said property or his authorized agent. All meters shall be sealed by the Water Utility and the seals may be broken only by the Water Utility or when authorized by the Water Utility.
    8. (In no case shall a pipe coupling be inserted in the line in place of a meter unless authorized by the Water Utility. Any person violating this provision will be required to pay an amount equal to the amount of damage sustained by the Water Utility, as determined by the Board of Public Works, by reason of loss or damage to the meter, and loss of revenue due to smaller registration of the meter. If the violator is a consumer, the water will be shut off and will remain so until the proper amount is paid. If the violator is a plumber, no further applications will be considered until the proper amount is paid.

What size of meter should a plumber install?

For larger multi-family, commercial or industrial metering applications, contact the La Crosse Utilities Office to speak with Water Utility personnel to ensure the meter size requested is appropriate. We want to be sure the smallest metering arrangement, that is most cost effective for the customer, is used while still meeting the needs of the water use. The Utility staff have found times that the size of meter requested by a plumber, without consulting utility personnel, was larger than needed; which can cost the customer hundreds of dollars more per year in the fixed service charges for water and sewer that are based on the meter size.

The La Crosse Utility primarily uses Sensus iperl meters as of 2014. During a plumbing upgrade or new construction, plumbers can use the following details for installing the meter setting.

Water Metering Links

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