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Downsize Your Water Meter

At the time water meters were first installed, their size was based on anticipated needs of customers and the fire department.

Water usage at a property can vary over the years due to changes in the number of occupants or in the type of business, as you conserve more water, and changes in usage patterns in the home and business.

As a result, your water meter may no longer be the correct size to meet your current water needs.

Benefits of a properly-sized meter

Properly sized water meters can benefit you in numerous ways, such as:

  • Properly sized meters have a lower failure rate.
  • Smaller meters require less maintenance than larger meters, in turn reducing the cost of water shut-offs for repairs or maintenance.
  • Smaller meters have a lower base service charge. By decreasing one meter size, you can save as much as 60% off your base service charge. Since newer meters installed by the City of Seattle have a 50% to 100% greater flow capacity than older meters, you can often get by with a smaller meter that provides water at a flow similar to your currently installed meter.

Note: Downsizing fire service water meters requires Seattle Fire Department approval.

Determine which size water meter you need

To determine whether downsizing is right for you, do the following:

  1. Determine the type of water service that serves your property.
    • Fire - Used for fire protection i.e. fire sprinklers, fire hydrants etc.
    • Domestic - Drinking water, flushing, washing, etc., as well as business and industrial uses.
    • Fire and Domestic - Combined service which supplies water for both domestic and fire protection uses.
  2. Determine the maximum water flow on your property in gallons per minute. (Remember to include the maximum designed fire flow, if applicable.)
  3. Using the meter sizing matrix below, determine if down-sizing your meter is right for you.
  4. Call customer service at (206) 684-3000 to downsize your meter.

For example: If you have a six inch water meter supplying domestic water for a commercial account that is located within City limits, your base service charge is $100 per month. You then calculate that your maximum water flow on the property is less than 220 gallons per minute. A three inch meter will supply you with more than enough water, at a cost of $32.00 a month - a cost savings of 68%, or $816.00 per year.

Meter sizing matrix

Meter Size Domestic Meter Maximum Capacity (gpm) Fire/Domestic Meter Maximum Capacity (gpm) Fire Meter Maximum Capacity (gpm)
¾" 25-30 25-30 25-30
1" 50 50 50
1½" 100 100 100
2" 160 160 *
3" 450 n/a *
4" 1,000 1,500 *
6" 2,000 3,100 *
8" n/a 5,000 *
10" n/a 8,000 *
12" n/a n/a *

* Flow capacity is based on inside diameter of the fire service meter (pipe size) and service pressure.

Related links

Water Rates