Summer is always the time of year when residents use the most water, whether they are filling swimming pools, irrigating lawns or have children who are home from school. This year a long stretch of 100-degree-plus days without rain in July and low rainfall in August resulted in increased water use that is now being reflected on customers’ latest bills. According to the Fort Worth Water Department, which supplies water to 30 other cities including North Richland Hills, water use this summer has rivaled the record-setting amount used in 2011, the last time North Texas experienced several consecutive days of extreme high heat.
The first chart below shows the total number of gallons billed to NRH's single family households each month in 2018, compared to 2017. (It does not include apartments, commercial or institutional accounts.) While higher than last year, the increase this summer is not unusual. The second chart shows the monthly precipitation and the third shows the monthly average high temperature.
Keep in mind when you receive your bill that it is for a Service Period that started almost six weeks prior. This time lapse could be contributing to the surprise factor when a large bill comes, but it’s been recently raining. You can find the Service Period in the Customer Account Summary of your bill.
To reduce your water bills, you are encouraged to be mindful of your water use and to conserve water whenever possible. Conservation tips can be found at www.nrhtx.com/conservation.
Common Causes of Higher Water Use
Water bills increase for variable reasons, listed below are some of the most common:
- Sprinkler system that is running more, leaking or has a broken sprinkler head. An irrigation system that is set to water longer, been switching on when you don’t expect it to, or that has one or more leaks can add up quickly on your water bill.
- Outdoor watering hose left running.
- Frequent refilling of swimming pool. Evaporation, wind and splashing can cause 1/4" to 1/2" loss of water per day in the summer and 1/8" to 1/4" per day in the winter. For pools that have automatic refillers, owners often fail to notice the amount used until their next water bill arrives.
- Occupancy increase. Kids home during summer break or house guests during the holidays, etc. can add to your monthly water use.
- Changes in daily behaviors. Hotter weather may result in extra showers, more laundry, children playing in sprinklers, etc., which contributes to your monthly water consumption.
- Leaks in toilets, faucets, pipes or slabs can significantly add to your monthly water bill. A running toilet can waste as much as 200 gallons of water a day and that can add up to about 5,500 a month or more. The EPA’s Fix-A-Leak Week page has tips on how to identify leaks that could be wasting water and increasing your bill, as well as video links that will help you fix a toilet and other household leaks.
- Theft of service. While uncommon, theft can happen.
- Reading error. While uncommon, errors can happen. If you would like to have your meter read again or its devices checked, contact the Water Department at 817-427-6200.
Changing Temperatures and Your Water Meter
The City of North Richland Hills has been asked if changing summer temperatures can impact the accuracy of water meters. Below is information from the manufacturer of our water meters on this topic. We are still researching the issue and will be increasing our testing of water meters in an effort to confirm the accuracy of the meters.
General Meter Information
- There are many applicable industry standards which govern water meters. American Water Works Association (AWWA) standards regulate numerous aspects and details including materials, capacities, operating temperatures, fluid temperatures, flow rates and accuracy levels among others. Badger Recordall Disc Meters meet or exceed all AWWA C700 standards. Badger E-Series meters also meet or exceed all applicable C700 standards, and will meet or exceed the upcoming AWWA C715 standards (not yet released).
- Ambient air temperature has negligible or no effect on the accuracy of water meters, regardless of type. Rather, it is the water temperature which is more important - water serves both as a lubricant and as a coolant, keeping the meter’s internal temperature much closer to that of the water vs. the ambient air. The Specific Volume of Water increases with increasing temperature, but at the operational temperature ranges typical in a water distribution system (34°F~80°F, nominal) the resulting difference easily falls within the allowable accuracy tolerances. AWWA standards require meters to accurately measure water temperatures up to 80°, which is rare even during the height of Texas summers. The E-Series have an even wider operating temperature, being capable of accurately measuring water up to 140°F.
- While meter accuracy varies depending on the applicable AWWA standard, in general residential water meters are required to be within +/-1.5% of 100% across their rated flow range. Accuracy at ultra-low flow rates tends to be lower than at higher flow rates. That is, at very low flow rates meters tend to measure less water than is being consumed, favoring the consumer.
- Every Badger meter is flow tested for accuracy at 3 flow rates (low, medium, high) prior to shipment. Accuracy test results are printed on a tag affixed to each meter, and is available to the city via electronic file.
Recordall Disc Meters
- The Recordall Disc series meters are Positive Displacement meters of the Nutating Disc design. Positive Displacement (PD) meters are true volumetric measurement devices – each nutation of the disc represents a precise volume of water. Just as a 5 gallon bucket cannot hold 6 gallons, a PD meter’s volumetric design prevents it from measuring more water than actually flows through it. As PD meters age with use, internal wear and the resulting friction will cause the meter to slow down, causing the meter register less water than is actually being consumed. Simply stated, a PD meter cannot measure more water than flows through it, nor can it “speed up” or measure more water than when new.
E-Series Ultrasonic Meters
- The E-Series meters utilize Ultrasonic, Transit-Time technology to accurately measure water flow and volume. Due to their electronic design, ultrasonic meters typically have wider flow ranges and larger operating capacities when compared to traditional mechanical technologies such as PD (above) or others.
- The E-Series meters employ an integrated Temperature Sensor to ensure volumetric accuracy. Water density and Specific Volume change with temperature, so the E-Series samples the water temperature to assure accurate measurement. Some ultrasonic meter designs do not perform this additional accuracy step.
- As they use non-mechanical, fully electronic design, E-Series meter do not wear, nor are they affected by usage or debris in the water. As such they maintain accuracy over extended periods up to 20 years.
Badger Meter Data Sheets