How water meters work
Water meters track household water usage and ensure customers are billed accurately. Every household, business and facility located within municipal boundaries and connected to the water distribution system is equipped with a water meter. Water meters are the property of the City of Ottawa and are maintained by the City of Ottawa.
Water meters are typically located in the basement where the water service enters your home or building. All the water that enters the building is measured. The water that passes through the water meter spins a built-in device. Each full spin of the machine measures a specific amount of water, and that amount is instantly shown on the display on top of the water meter in cubic meters (m³). The only way for water to be measured is for it to flow through the water meter, physically spinning the device.
All water meters have a meter reading device attached which communicates your water usage data to the City of Ottawa’s network. These devices are installed on the exterior of your house or building or the garage door frame.
How to read your water meter
Taking a meter reading is as easy as reading your car odometer. Your meter will display a six to nine-digit number depending on the model of the meter installed in your home. If your meter is digital, you will need to shine a light on the solar cell for the number to display. Hold the light on the solar cell for a minute until the numbers appear on the screen. The numbers will cycle between total consumption and flow rate. Water consumption is recorded in cubic meters (m³). If you are unable to find your meter, please contact Revenue Services at 613-580-2444 (TTY: 613-580-2401), as we may have the location information on file.
Water meter maintenance
The City of Ottawa maintains water meters. Customers will be notified by mail when their meter is malfunctioning and a service appointment is required. A notice will also appear on their water bill. The most common reason for meter maintenance is a repair to the wire which connects the water meter to the radio transmitter. On rare occasions, the meter may fail and require replacement. Residents may also receive a letter requesting occupancy confirmation should their meter continuously record low or no consumption.
If the City does not receive a meter reading from your property, your water bill will be based on estimated usage until the meter is repaired. Estimated consumption may increase if your usage cannot be confirmed.
Please book an appointment for repair as soon as possible to ensure the accuracy of your account.
Water meter FAQs
Why is the City contacting me about my meter?
The city will notify customers by mail when their meter is malfunctioning and a service appointment is required. You may also receive a letter requesting occupancy confirmation should your meter continuously record low or no consumption.
Where is my shut off valve?
The building shut off valve is typically located where the water service enters your home or basement, usually this is in the basement. This valve can be used to shut off all water to your property. In the event this valve is not functioning, you may request the City turn off your water at the street by calling 3-1-1. A Service fee will apply.
Can I have my water meter tested for accuracy?
Water meters either record consumption accurately or start under-registering with age, however if you would like to have your meter tested you can request the water meter be tested for accuracy. Should the testing prove that the meter is not over-registering, it is your responsibility to pay for the test.
How often are meters replaced?
Residential water meters have a typical lifecycle of 25 years. The City will contact homeowners should their meter require replacement
Small meter replacement project (with Neptune)
Water meters are the property of the City of Ottawa and require replacing after their lifecycle – which can be up to 25 years. As a condition of receiving water service under City of Ottawa By-Law, the City will be replacing these ageing water meters to effectively support the delivery and billing of drinking water to households and businesses.
The City of Ottawa has contracted Neptune Technology Group to replace approximately 85,000 ageing small water meters with new high-resolution meters in Ottawa residences. The project will ensure the continued accuracy of water bills and improved reading efficiencies and will commence in the summer of 2021 and conclude by the end of 2024. There is no charge to customers for the replacement.
Benefits of a new meter
These new water meters will now allow customers to have enhanced online features through My ServiceOttawa, including the ability to:
- View usage data right down to the litre – which can help detect even small leaks
- Sign up for advanced leak and usage alerts, including:
- Continuous usage alerts, which notifies customers when their water meter records usage every hour for seven consecutive days, possibly indicating a water leak or abnormal water usage.
- Daily average usage alerts, which notifies customers when their daily water usage exceeds a daily threshold that they set themselves.
Current wards scheduled for replacements
- 12 - Rideau-Vanier Ward
- 13 - Rideau-Rockcliffe Ward
- 17 - Capital Ward
- 15 - Kitchissippi Ward
- 14 - Somerset Ward
- 09 - Knoxdale-Merivale
- 16 - River
Affected customers will be notified when it is their turn to have their water meters replaced.
Booking your appointment
Installations will be carried out on a ward by ward basis. As Neptune Technology Group moves into your ward, you will receive a notification containing information on booking your appointment. If you are a tenant, please contact the building owner when you receive this information.
The notifications will provide a unique customer ID that will allow customers to book their own appointments. Once you receive a notice, booking an appointment is quick and easy and can be done either online or through Neptune’s call centre. Please do not contact Neptune until you have received the notice. Appointments can be made to fit your schedule. Neptune will offer 2-hour appointment windows from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 5pm on Saturdays.
What to expect during your appointment
The replacement time for a new meter is approximately 60 to 90 minutes and will require the water to be shut off and then turned back on by Neptune Technology technicians during that time. Someone from your household who is at least 18 years of age must be at home during the appointment.
Before the arrival of the Neptune Technology technicians, please ensure the area around the existing water meter is clear and accessible and leave ample room for the technicians to work. Your existing shut-off valve should be located where the water service comes into your house.
The health and safety of residents and the Neptune Technology technicians is the number one priority for the City and Neptune Technology Group. The City of Ottawa has implemented a Mandatory Vaccination Policy which requires all employees, contractors, students and volunteers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This includes all Neptune Technology staff entering residents’ homes to perform work under this program. In addition, all staff will be following strict COVID-19 safety protocols approved by the City during the installation, such as:
- Technicians will wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) – including masks and gloves
- Maintain physical distancing with clients at all times
- Allow homeowners to open all the doorways to the water meter area
- Sanitizing all installed equipment and instruments
- Contactless acknowledgement for work completed
- Daily COVID self-assessments plus temperature checks