The Price of Water

An animated woman standing.

Is Water Free?


A water meter measures the amount of water coming into your home or business. Your water meter may be located in your basement or outside in a pit or hole. A meter reader reads the water meter on a regular basis. The utility company bills you for the amount of water used. The bill covers the costs of treating and distributing the water. Sometimes, a utility company must buy water. All of these costs and the wages for the utility's staff must be met.
Water is a bargain. The average price of water in the United States is about $1.50 for 1,000 gallons. At that price, a gallon of water costs less than one penny. How does that compare with one can of soft drink? Here are two kinds of water meters used in North America.

The first water meter is read like a traditional clock. The second water meter is read like a digital clock.
2 water meters side by side.
Water meters can measure in gallons, cubic feet, or cubic meters. The water meters shown here are measuring in gallons.
Let's say these readings are for the Smith family. The first water meter shows last month's reading. The second water meter shows the reading for this month.

Find out how much water the Smith family used in 1 month. Just subtract the first reading (7,654 gallons) from the second reading (10,664 gallons). In 1 month they used 3,010 gallons of water.
2 water meters side by side.
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