How to read an OWASA meter

  • to monitor your water use on a regular basis, and/or
  • to check for leaks


We encourage you check both our monthly bills and our water meter between billings to monitor your water use and look for signs of a water leak.

Our rates are designed to encourage conservation, so checking our meter will help you monitor the effectiveness of your conservation actions and investments.

To find out if you have a leak(s) in your plumbing system, please check the water flow indicator on our meter when you are not intentionally using water.

National research indicates that leaks account for about 14% of indoor residential water use. Toilets are one of the most common places for leaks.

If you fix a leak, please contact the OWASA Customer Service staff at 919-537-4343 or regarding our policy on account adjustments after a leak is repaired. (We may allow one leak adjustment once every three years subject to some limits and conditions.)

Where is the OWASA water meter for your home or workplace?

OWASA’s water meters are usually at or close to the boundary between a public street right-of-way and the customer’s property. The property/street right-of-way boundary is normally several feet from the edge of a paved road or the street curb.

Our meter is typically in a metal box with a concrete cover about 10" by 15." A hinged metal hatch in the cover is opened to read the meter.

If you have difficulty finding the OWASA meter, please contact our Customer Service staff at 919-537-4343 or

What do an OWASA meter and meter box look like?

Our meter is typically installed in a metal box with a concrete cover as noted above

Opening the metal hatch on a meter box.


The readable part of the OWASA meter inside the box usually looks like this:   

How can I read the OWASA meter to determine my water use between meter readings?

1.   Record the meter numbers from left to right and then add the number indicated by a rotating dial.

For example, if the meter reading is  


with the red rotating dial close to the 4 as in the photo above, then the meter reading is 6,624 gallons:

2.   Write down this reading along with the date (and time if you wish).

3.   Take a second reading later and subtract the first reading from the second reading.

For example, if the meter reading is        


with the red rotating dial close to the 4, then the meter reading would be 10,744 gallons:

4.   The difference between the two readings is the total water use between the two meter readings.

For example:

·        The first reading shown above is 6,624 gallons.

·        The second reading is 10,744 gallons.

·        The difference is 4,120 gallons, which is the amount of water use between the two readings.

Please note that OWASA bills in whole thousands of gallons and uses the last whole thousand gallons completed for billing purposes. For example:


Meter reading at START of one-month service period


Meter reading listed on OWASA bill

6   [refers to thousand gallons]

Meter reading at END of one-month service period


Meter reading listed on OWASA bill

10   [thousand gallons]

Amount of water/sewer use billed

4 [thousand gallons], which is the difference between the 10 and 6 thousand gallon readings for billing purposes

If you have any questions, please contact us at 919-537-4343 or

Using the OWASA meter to check whether there is a leak in your plumbing system

If the triangle or wheel near or at the center of the meter or the rotating red dial is moving when there is no intentional water use at your home, business, etc., that means that water is going through the meter and there is a leak somewhere in your plumbing system. If you cannot see a flow indicator on our meter, you can compare meter readings before and after a period when you do not use water.

The leak may be in a faucet, spigot, showerhead, pipe, hose, irrigation system (if you have one), or fixture(s) such as a toilet, clothes- or dishwasher or water heater.

Water flow indicator


Finding leaks

Toilets are one of the most common places for leaks. To check a toilet for a leak, put food dye in the tank and wait 15 to 20 minutes without flushing. If the dye appears in the toilet bowl, there is a leak, probably in the flapper at the bottom of the tank. The flapper may need to be replaced and/or the rim that the flapper rests on may need to be cleaned.


If the leak is not in a toilet, it may be in a pipe, hose, a water-using fixture or the irrigation system if you have one. For a list of places to check for leaks, please click here.

If you have difficulty finding a leak or are not able to fix a leak, we recommend that you contact a licensed plumber or other knowledgeable person. You may need to turn off the water service by using your master shut-off valve until the leak is found and repaired by a plumber or other qualified person. It is to your advantage to repair leaks as soon as possible.

When you find and fix a leak, please contact Customer Service to ask about getting an account adjustment (some limits and conditions apply).

Questions or comments?

Please contact OWASA Customer Service at 919-537-4343 or or visit or write to us at 400 Jones Ferry Road, Carrboro, NC 27510 (near Barnes Street’s intersection with Jones Ferry Road).