How Meters Are Read
Reading Water Meters is Easy, Right?
Reading a water meter looks pretty easy. You could probably read your water meter in just a few minutes. But how
about over 80,000 water meters?! All 80,000 plus water meters in Plano are read every month.
The city is divided into 20 geographic cycles for meter reading purposes. Your water meter is read about the same
date each month for billing give or take a day or two, depending on weekends and holidays.
If something is blocking access to the water meter box, repeat visits are made to obtain a meter reading or the
customer is contacted prior to billing. Meters are normally read between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.,
Monday through Friday (Saturday occasionally). They are identified by a shirt with the City logo on it.
How Do They Collect All Those Meter Readings?
For over 20 years now, the meter readers have used hand-held computers to capture meter readings. When the meter
reader enters the reading, the computer quickly calculates the amount of water used and compares it with water
usage for the previous month. If the current water usage exceeds the previous water usage by more than expected,
the computer alerts the meter reader, who must then re-read the meter and re-enter the meter reading. This is this
first audit of the meter reading.
In the summer of 2008, the city began installing its second generation meter reading system. This Fixed Network
System eliminates the need to send a person to physically read the meter. A unit called an MTU (meter transmitting
unit) is attached by wire to an electronic meter register. The unit records a reading from the meter four times daily
and transmits the reading using a radio frequency signal to a device called a DCU (data collector unit). The DCU
relays all readings received each day to the Billing office via the city's Wi-Fi system.
What Does a Meter Reading Look Like?
The City uses several brands of water meters. All have a meter register that looks very much like the odometer in
your car, and have six or seven digits to read. The meter readings are read in tens, hundreds or thousands of gallons.
The billing system is programmed to take these meter readings and calculate the correct water usage in thousands of