Water metering is a method, including its associated equipment, that helps users calculate water usage, which is often combined with a priced fee per unit consumed. Water metering is a component of public water management designed to monitor and ultimately reduce water use. This is a common practice in many countries with well-developed public water supplies, where water meters are installed to measure the consumption rate of most homes and buildings. The customer then pays for water usage at recurring rates (e.g., quarterly, monthly). Meters unrelated to pricing charges in rural settings, such as in public wells, can also be used to monitor extraction rates, although this is less common. Water meters can also be used to detect and pinpoint leaks in systems (producing water compared to meters at endpoints) and provide utilities with information on consumer behavior that can be used for water conservation activities.
Water meters are generally installed at end-use points, for example, in every household or commercial building. The meters detect and display the amount of water flow in cubic liters or gallons. This data is both displayed to the user and collected by the utilities. Traditional meters mechanically detect and display use with a rotating dial in the device, while modern meters, such as ultrasonic meters, are often static and bound to remote readers, and have very high accuracy.
Water utilities use the metered data to charge the consumer per unit of water consumed over a certain time period. Meters mostly lose sensitivity with time (especially mechanical meters), so once established, routine check-ups are required and new meters are installed, when necessary.
Water meters are typically installed and maintained by water utilities as part of a service provision contract, though in some areas there may be local regulations requiring meters to be set up and maintained in buildings.
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