Water Meters

By metering water consumption and using volume-based billing, we work together to conserve water, our most precious natural resource.

15-Year Plan: Water Meter Installation

Much of Modesto’s history takes place before 1992, the year water meter installation became mandatory on new California construction. Prior to 1992, most of the City’s existing residential water customers did not have water meters and, as a result, the City charged all water service customers a flat rate based on property size.

In 2004, the City developed a 15-year plan to install water meters on all connections. The work began in 2006, and now, more than 70,000 water meters are currently in operation.

The new volume-based billing ensures that customers pay only for the water they use. It also can help customers conserve water and save money.

Volume Based Billing

Your water meter measures how much water you use in units (a measurement of 100 cubic feet of water, equivalent to 748 gallons). The meter is read once a month, and a bill is produced based on the difference between the current month’s usage and the previous month’s usage.

Using the rates that went into effect on July 1, 2008, customers will be charged a fixed meter cost plus the cost of units of water consumed in each billing cycle. For billing details, see Water Rates. If you have questions about your billing, please contact Customer Service at 209-577-5395.

Automated Meter Reading

With an automated meter reading (AMR) system in place, City services are more cost effective and are able to operate more efficiently.

AMR devices allow meter readers to electronically gather data by driving within 300 feet of the meters on their routes, rather than taking individual reads of every home’s meter. The system results in more accurate readings and billings, more efficient service repairs, faster data collection, and immediate leak detection.

Water Meter Damage

If something happens to your water meter, call Modesto’s 24-hour emergency water hotline at 209-342-2246.


  • 1991: California State legislation requires water meter installations on all new water service connections, beginning in 1992.
  • July 2003: Modesto City Council approved the installation of water meters and metered water billing for all single-family homes in the City’s outlying water systems, such as Grayson, Del Rio, and parts of Ceres and Turlock.
  • September 2004: State Assembly Bill 2572 became law, requiring water meters on all connections built before 1992 and mandating that all metered customers be billed based on the actual volume of water delivered. The State gave the City until 2010 to start volume-based billing and until 2025 to be fully metered.
    • Download State Assembly Bill 2572 (PDF)
  • November 2004: City Council approved an Ordinance amending the Municipal Code for new fixed and volume-based charges for water delivery.
  • December 2004: City Council directed the City’s Water Division to meter all connections in all City-owned systems over a 15-year period.
  • April 2006: City Council approved the purchase of an Automated Meter Reading (AMR) system which will be retrofit to all existing meters and included in the installation of all new meters.