Water Meter Reading and Maintenance Program

1. Overview

Our division reads and maintains over 11,346 water meters. We install meters for new construction and repair existing meters. The city has new Neptune radio read water meters. All meters are read every month. If you have a high water bill, feel the read is incorrect, or have meter problems, please call our office for an appointment.

Your water meter can tell you a lot – learn how to read it!

Our water meters are Neptune radio read meters which are read by an automatic meter reading system that sends a low powered radio signal from an MIU (meter interface unit) connected to your water meter to a computer mounted in the meter service vehicle. The computer-equipped vehicle drives down the street and automatically reads water meters. This allows City of Helena Water employees to conveniently read your meter without entering your property or home. The information is then used to produce a bill.

How To Read Your Own Meter:

Your meter was made by Neptune. It is equipped with a solar cell, which supplies power for the LCD panel. In order to activate the panel you will need a high-powered flashlight. We have found the 3-inch camping flashlights work great. Just hold your flashlight over the solar cell(1) and within a few seconds you will begin seeing the reading in the LCD display box(5) located just below the solar cell. Continue holding the flashlight over the solar panel. The average rate of flow (4) is displayed every 6 seconds alternating with the reading. All meters started at zero (0). To get the reading, begin from the left and write down the numbers. The meter reading is shown in units. One unit=100 cubic feet or 748 gallons. For residential customers you will need to read the first four (4) numbers. The number of digits to read varies on commercial accounts depending on the size of the meter, so please feel free to call our office if you have questions.

The meter is also equipped with a leak indicator(2). If you see a water faucet above the numbers on the left hand side, this could indicate a possible leak. The meter monitors a 24-hour period in fifteen-minute intervals. If the faucet is flashing, this indicates that water has been used for at least 50 of the 96 15-minute intervals during a 24-hour period. If the faucet is showing continuously, this indicates that water was on for all of the 96 15-minute intervals during a 24-hour period.

The flow indicator(3) arrow shows the direction of flow through the meter. If you do not see the arrow, then water is not in use. If the arrow is flashing, then water is running slowly.

If you still have problems reading your meter, please feel free to stop at our office and we would be happy to give you a demonstration.

See images above.

Learn what to do when an issue arises.

Our water meters are Neptune radio read meters which are read by an automatic meter reading

Leaking meters, noisy meters and other meter problems should be reported to Water Utility Maintenance at 457-8567. Freezing conditions can damage water meters. If your meter freezes because you neglected to take simple steps to protect it from the cold, the City Water Department will repair or replace the meter at your expense. If the Water Department has to repair or replace your water meter, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to re-insulate and re-install heat tape on the water meter.

2. Backflow Prevention

Backflow is a term in plumbing for an unwanted flow of water in the reverse direction. It can be a serious health risk for the contamination of pristine water.

Learn more about the backflow prevention program

Helena implements back flow and cross-connection control for protection of the water system through the Universal Plumbing Code and adopted Engineering Standards. This Ordinance #3161 requires that all backflow devices be tested at the time of installation and at least annually thereafter. Testing must be performed by a certified backflow prevention assembly tester that has been placed on the City of Helena certified testers list after proving that he or she is a competent tester. Backflow devices are necessary to ensure that both health and no health hazards do not backflow into the drinking water system.