A SUMMER WATER USAGE MEMO FROM THE MARLBORO WATER UTILITY DIVISION
This is the time of year when residents start watering their lawns and filling pools. A couple of important reminders before you set those sprinklers and start topping off the pools. First, water bills are driven by consumption. The more water utilized, the higher your bill. This is why bills reflecting summer usage are so high relative to the rest of the year.
Water consumption is measured by a water meter, typically located on the lower level of your house and read remotely on a quarterly basis by Water Utility staff. Note that water meters are mechanical devices which will typically slow down over time, not speed up. In other words, a meter with a problem is far more likely to be UNDER reporting water consumption than OVER reporting. Meters are rarely if ever found to be over-reporting consumption. If you believe the meter is reflecting abnormally high consumption, the water is almost certainly being used. Sprinkler systems and leaks are most likely responsible for that usage. That said, if you believe there is a problem with your meter, the Township will, upon request, send the meter out to a 3rd party testing company to ensure that it is functioning properly. There is an $80.00 fee for meter testing which is waived only if the meter is found to be registering water flows at a higher rate than is actually being used.
Did you know that:
- Leaks from plumbing pipes and fixtures are a significant source of wasted water that can account for thousands of gallons a year.
- A small leak can add up very quickly. A leaking faucet or invisible toilet leak that drips continuously can add up to 15 to 20 gallons a day. That is over 5,000 gallons per year of wasted water. Toilets are one of the most common culprits of leaks in homes because the leak is often silent and out of sight. Toilet leaks send water directly to the sewer without any detection. To test for a toilet leak, place a few drops of food coloring in the tank of the toilet. Wait approximately 15 to 20 minutes, and if the food coloring shows up in the bowl of the toilet, there is a leak in the flapper valve. This can be replaced by an “experienced do-it-yourselfer” or a plumber.
- On average, running a simple lawn sprinkler connected to a standard 5/8" garden hose for one hour uses approximately 1,000 to 1,500 gallons of water; if you run the sprinkler three times per week for an hour total each time, you would use 1,500 gallons of water per watering, totaling approximately 18,000 gallons per month. Running the sprinkler three (3) times a week during a 90-day billing cycle, would add approximately 54,000 gallons of water to your water bill which can amount to more than $485.00 per billing cycle. This example is just for a simple lawn sprinkler attached to a garden hose, to show the impact that lawn irrigation has on the water bill. Using a more complicated multiple-zoned lawn irrigation system can more than quadruple an average water bill.
- An average size swimming pool can lose between 1/4" to 1/2" of water per day due to evaporation dependent upon size of pool, water features and weather. Evaporation at this rate adds up to between 1.75 – 3.5 inches per week. Consequently, swimming pools can lose well over 25,000 gallons of water per year due to evaporation requiring them to be topped off/filled every 7 to 10 days.
- A significant amount of water evaporation can take place in a swimming pool. To help show how quickly water can evaporate and to aid in determining if your pool has a leak you can perform what is called a "bucket test". Note, this test should be performed only when the forecast is expected to be clear with no rain. If it rains you will have to start the test over.
- Make sure your pool is filled to its normal/standard level, and that all pool features such as waterfalls, fountains, auto-fill devices, etc. are turned off. The water needs to be calm and still.
- Place a 5 gallon bucket on the first or second step in the pool. Then fill the bucket a few inches from the top with pool water. Fill the bucket so that the water level in the bucket matches the height of the water level of the pool on the outside of the bucket. Once the two water levels match, mark both water levels on the bucket.
- Leave the bucket untouched for 2 to 4 days. Check the bucket on the final day. Is the pool water lower than the water in the bucket? Or are the two levels relatively the same height? If the two water levels are the same height the water loss would be from evaporation. If the pool water is significantly lower than the bucket water you have a leak.
So, the message is: Don’t wait for your bill to show up in the mail. Take this opportunity, before the weather gets hot to make sure everything is functioning properly. Here are some helpful tips to ensure there are no surprises when you receive your water bill:
Check for leaks before your irrigation system is turned on for the season
- Verify that all water using fixtures are closed and that no one in the home is using any water.
- Read your water meter and write down the reading. Wait 15 minutes and then read your water meter again. The meter reading should not increase.
- If the reading increases and you have confirmed that all fixtures are off and that no one in the home is using any water, you have a leak and a plumber should be called to address the problem.
Check for leaks after the irrigation system is turned on for the season
- Read your water meter before your irrigation sprinkler system is turned on.
- Allow the irrigation system to run for the designated water period as determined by the sprinkler timer from the irrigation company.
- Immediately after the irrigation system is shut-off, read your water meter again. The difference between these two numbers will be the amount of water in gallons you use during a single watering period.
- After the irrigation is shut-off, make sure that all water using fixtures are closed and that no one in the home is using any water. Then wait at least 30 minutes and read the water meter again. If the meter reading increased, you have a leak somewhere in the irrigation system and you need to contact your irrigation company.
For ways to Conserve Water, Lower Your Bill and Protect the Environment click HERE.
The Marlboro Water Utility services approximately 60% percent of Marlboro residents. If you are a Marlboro Water Utility Customer, please call (732) 536-0200 Ext.1816 or send an e-mail to if you have any questions or concerns.