City addresses questions of high water bills, meter accuracy

Meters we have tested are accurate; irrigation systems may be using more water than owners realize

There have been a number of questions about the accuracy of water meters in Round Rock as customers received their utility bills for July/August water use.

The City takes these concerns seriously. We have taken a number of steps to investigate the issue, including testing meters for accuracy, auditing resident irrigation system settings, and verifying the volume of water we produced equaled the volume of water that we billed after taking into account distribution system water loss.

Meters are tested prior to leaving the factory and are calibrated to meet American Water Works Association (AWWA) standards. In addition, the Utilities and Environmental Services Department has testing equipment so the City can verify whether the calibration is accurate. All meters the City has double-checked do meet AWWA standards.

Utilities personnel have visited some of the homes whose owners expressed concern about their bills.  While on site, we checked irrigation controller settings, as well as reviewed water use data for each home. The results indicate the meters are reading correctly and the properties are using a significant amount of water for irrigation. We have witnessed properties using between 3,200 and 10,000 gallons each time their irrigation system runs. Over the course of a month that equates to a significant amount of usage – enough to push customers into our highest tier of summer water rates.

Round Rock received a significant amount of rainfall through June this year. Because of all that rain, water usage was lower than past years for those months. From June 30 to mid-September, though, Round Rock did not receive any significant rainfall and experienced triple-digit temperatures, causing water usage to rise dramatically. We have observed many homeowners irrigating at high levels to keep their yards green.

As a whole, the City used nearly twice as much water in August as was used in June (see chart below).

If you would like to have your irrigation system checked for efficiency, contact Jessica Woods, water conservation coordinator, via email.

Water Use in Summer Months 2013-2015

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