Read Your Meter & Calculate Water Use

For your first meter read, it is best to get your latest meter read and date from your bill. This is most accurate. But you can also read your meter as early in the month as possible and again a week or so later. The exact number of days between readings is not critical, but try to read your meter at the same time each day. Repeat as often as needed during the month. Your meter billing period is the time between your meter readings by the District.

How to Locate & Open Your Water Meter

Your water meter can usually be found in a ground-level concrete box near the street.

Bring a flashlight and two large flat head screwdrivers to open the meter box cover. You may want gloves, too. Carefully remove the lid, and please be aware of any critters that may be in the box.  You can clear away any spiders or leaves with a screwdriver.
  1. Stick one screwdriver in the hole to use as a lever.
  2. Use the other screwdriver to pry up the outer edge.
  3. Lift the lid just enough to slide it away from the opening with your foot. (Replace the lid by sliding it back into place.)
Inside the meter box is a hinged meter cover. Flip the cover into an upright position to read the meter face.
Water Meter Box

the video below is to help you on How to Read Your AMI Meter

For customers that have had a NEW automated meter installed, the first thing you will notice is a black rubber circle on the top of your water meter box.  Please be aware that wires are attached to the meter lid and to be careful when opening the box.

Water meter box with a closed lid and rubber circle

To learn more about the District's AMI program, visit our page

If you are having difficulty reading your meter, please call customer service at (858) 756-2424.

open water meter box with meter showing and radio

To read the meter, open the lid as shown in the photo below.

The measurement on the meter is cubic feet. 

(1 cubic foot = 7.48 gallons)  

Since the District bills in hundred cubic feet, only the first four numbers at the far left are used for billing. You can compare the meter reading to the last bill received to determine the amount of water used.

iperl  meter with highlighted digits

Dates That Meters are Read

Water meters are read every other month around the 1st or the 15th, depending on your billing cycle. Review your most recent bill to find out what date the meter was read. 

Need Help Estimating?

1. Log on to the SFID Customer Portal

ensure access to your water Meter box

To ensure access for reading and servicing your meter, it is important that you maintain the area around your meter box.  Most people are not aware that their water meter is located within a utility easement.  This means that when landscaping or fencing your yard, you need to maintain at least a five (5) foot radius of clearing around the meter box to allow us to read, service, or perform emergency repairs to the meter.  It also means that it is the property owner's responsibility to ensure that the meter box is visible and accessible at all times. If the area is not maintained, the District will provide the customer a 48 hours' notice prior to the District staff clearing the area.  

Clearance Needed Around Water Meter Box

diagram of 5 ft clearance around water meter


Please keep these things in mind when landscaping:

  • Permanent structure such as walls, fences and gates cannot be installed in a utility easement area without an encroachment permit.
  • Your meter area should be kept clear of shrubbery, trees and low growing bushes.
  • When planting trees, keep in mind that the tree roots can become entangled around the underground pipes, increasing the possibility of broken pipes and water leaks.
  • Shrubbery can become bushy and hinder our ability to access the meter.
  • Customers who already have established landscaping are required to trim their plants to allow access to the meter. 


If you have any questions about maintaining the meter area, or need help locating the water meter, please call the District's Customer Services Department at (858) 756-2424.

  1. Kerri Harrell

    Customer Service Representative II
    Phone: 858-756-2424

  2. Rene Heraz

    Customer Service Representative II
    Phone: 858-227-5788