High Usage and Leaks

High Usage and Bills

If your water consumption appears to be higher than normal, first check for leaks, especially in toilets, before calling the Utilities Department. Also, take into account the amount of time spent watering lawns or gardens, as this practice uses a significant amount of water. For information about high bills, call 804-748-1291.

Do you irrigate your lawn? Knowing how and when to water helps to keep a yard healthy and costs down! Visit our Water-wise Lawn and Landscape Care page for more information and helpful tips.


Water leaks are a waste of a valuable resource: pure, clean drinking water. An undetected leak may result in a costly utility bill. View how to locate and stop costly water leaks (PDF). Water standing in a yard, water in or around a meter box, or an unusually high bill may indicate a potential water leak. Three steps to find a leak:

  1. Check the water meter.
  2. Determine if the leak is in the home or underground.
  3. Locate the leak in the home.

Utilities is responsible for repairing leaks in the meter box and on the street side of the meter box. When a customer connects to the public water system, a plumber makes a connection to the meter on the house side of the meter box. Leaks at the plumber’s connection, the service line to the house and in all other house plumbing are the customer’s responsibility to repair.

Customers may qualify for a bill adjustment when there is a water line or plumbing leak on the customers’ side of the water meter and it impacts their water or wastewater utility bill. In this case, a customer may complete a water and wastewater leak adjustment request.

  1. Check the Water Meter
  2. Determine Leak Location
  3. Leak Adjustment Requests

Check the Water Meter

The first step in checking the water meter is to make sure no water is being used in the home. If a toilet is being flushed, or a washing machine or dishwasher is being used, this test will not work.

Remove the cover on the meter box and observe the center sweep hand located on the meter register. When water is passing through the meter, the sweep hand will rotate in a clockwise direction. One complete revolution of the sweep hand equals 1 cubic foot of water, or approximately 7.5 gallons. The dial face is divided into 100 increments around the outer edge. Record the location of the sweep hand. Wait 15 minutes and check the sweep hand again. A small leak may take several minutes for the sweep hand to noticeably move. If the sweep hand has not moved, there probably is not a leak.

Newer meters are equipped with leak detectors. This is a red triangle on the register face that will rotate when water is passing through the meter. Movement of the leak detector is more noticeable than the sweep hand when small amounts of water pass through the meter. If either the sweep-hand or leak-detector dials are moving, with no apparent usage of water in the house, you may have a leak.