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High Water Usage

There are several possible reasons for this:


Water consumption may increase in the summer months because of the hotter, drier weather. If your bill is unusually high, it may be due to your landscape watering. Make sure the timers on your automatic sprinklers are not set for too long or too often. For maximum savings, minimum pruning, and optimum plant health, adjust the amount of water according to temperature, humidity and rainfall at least four times a year. After a power outage, recheck the settings on your timers. Watering your lawn during the coolest and calmest part of the day minimizes water loss due to evaporation and wind. Very early morning or after sunset are the best times to water. The Weather page of your local newspaper lists the amount of water needed weekly to maintain your lawn. You can also call Water Conservation at 480-312-5690 for a lawn watering guide or answers to your questions.

If you water manually, take care not to overwater. A standard hose can use as much as 20 gallons of water per minute. A hose left on by mistake can waste as much as 28,000 gallons in 24 hours! Don't water sidewalks or streets.


To determine whether you have a leak, you can do a meter test. Go out to your meter. (Most meter boxes are out by the sidewalk and level with the ground directly in front of the property.) Using a screwdriver or stick, slide the meter box lid off. You will see a glass dial similar to a clock face. There will be an odometer style dial and a clock hand. Write down the positions of both. (Some meters also have a small triangle on the dial face as well. If this triangle is moving when you are not knowingly using water, this is your first indication that you may have a leak.) Visually inspect the sprinkler system both when it's on and off.

First, make sure the reading on the odometer dial is higher than the reading given on your latest bill. If the odometer reading is lower, then your meter was misread. (This happens less than 1 percent of the time, but does happen.) If your reading is lower, call us at 480-312-2461.

After reading the meter, use no water for at least two hours. (You can read the meter just before you leave the house for work or to go grocery shopping or do the test overnight for more accurate results). Take a second reading. If you used no water, the two readings should be the same. If the reading has changed or the sweep hand or triangle have moved, something on the property may be pulling water through the meter.


If your meter does show usage on the meter test, finding the problem is the responsibility of the property owner. But we can suggest some places to look.

An underground leak may not be apparent on the surface. Much of Scottsdale sits on very porous ground. Instead of causing puddles on the surface, the water drains quickly, then follows the slope of the ground along sidewalks, into gutters and storm drains. Instead of puddles or soggy spots, look for areas of lusher grass, unexpected vegetation or dark spots on the ground resulting from fungus growth.

A toilet running continuously can use as much as 4,000 gallons of water per day! Even a slow, silent leak can add gallons to your bill. Put a few drops of food coloring in the tank and see if it seeps through to the bowl. If it does, replace the flapper valve and/or the rubber gasket at the bottom of the tank. If your toilet is an older model and you wish to replace it, call Water Conservation at 480-312-5690 for information on plumbing rebates for water-saver toilets.

Make sure all your faucets turn off completely. Even a slow drip can use as much as 5,000 gallons a month. A steady stream can mean an increase of up to 21,000 gallons a month on your billing statement.

An evaporative cooler can use as much as 500 gallons of water per day if it doesn't have a recirculation pump. Even if there is a recirculation pump, the water level float can stick, causing water to run out the overflow.

Water softeners, water filters, water heaters, and automatic pool fillers also have water level floats that can stick open. (This may not be apparent if the overflow is piped into the drains.) If you suspect one of these appliances is the problem, turn it off and redo the meter test. If the usage stops, you have identified the source.

An automatic pool filler can disguise any problems you might have with the pool. Occasionally, shut the filler off and see if the pool level drops more than it would with normal evaporation. For example, a pool 20' wide and 40' long will lose an average of 3500 gallons of water per month to evaporation. (This is a yearly average and will be higher in the summer and lower in the winter.) That would result in a seven inch drop in pool level in a month or about 1/4" per day.

Use your meter to help you manage your water. Read your meter before and after different water activities such as irrigating your lawn, filling your pool, washing your car, or doing a load of laundry or dishes. For instance, determine the water consumption used when you water your yard. Multiply that by the number of times you water per month. This shows you what portion of your monthly water bill is used on your lawn.


If you have done the leak check and feel the problem is with the meter, call us. We can have your meter tested for accuracy.  However, once a meter begins to fail, it usually reads less water, not more.  Please note that there is a $50.00 (US Dollars) charge for the test if the meter is accurate.  Please check all of your other options before asking for the meter test.

Additional Information

If you have a leak at your water meter or wish to report a leak on City property, please call Water Operations at 480-312-5650. To report leaks on private property or abuses of water use, please call Code Enforcement at 480-312-2546 or the Police Department at 480-312-5000.

If you would like more information about conserving water, desert landscaping, workshops or rebates please call Water Conservation at 480-312-5690.

Your sewer rate is based on your water consumption in the prior December, January, and February. If you have a leak or refill your pool during those months, you need to fill out a sewer adjustment form.  If you disagree with your sewer amount or would like to request a sewer adjustment form, please call our Water Resources Department at 480-312-5685.

Questions concerning garbage and brush pickup, recycling, reducing waste, or container repair can be answered by Solid Waste at 480-312-5600. More info...

For questions about a delinquent amount on your bill, please call Revenue Recovery at 480-312-2705.

For questions about your bill, please call Utility Billing at 480-312-2461.