Bournemouth Water Logo

We are not aware of any problems on our network.  To report an incident, please contact us on 01202 590059.

01202 590059.”  

Metering FAQs

Do I have to pay for a meter?

We provide and install most meters free of charge. There could be a cost to you if installing a meter at your property is more complicated than usual because:

  • we can’t fit a meter in the normal place, at the property boundary, and we have to put it somewhere else
  • you share your water supply with a neighbour, or
  • you need to hire a plumber to change your plumbing

Once we have received your meter application, we’ll take a look at your property to see where we can fit a meter. We’ll let you know what we find soon afterwards.


Would a meter save me money?

It depends on how much water you use. You can use this water meter estimator from the Consumer Council for Water to get an idea of how a metered bill would compare to your current bills.


How much water am I likely to use?

On average, domestic water use is about 60 cubic metres (60,000 litres) per person per year, but this figure is approximate and can vary considerably.

The main factors affecting a household’s water use are the number of people in the home, the number of automatic washing appliances, the number of baths and showers taken, and garden watering.

Find out how much you use by using this water meter estimator from the Consumer Council for Water  or you can work it out with these water use examples.


Where is my water meter?

Most meters are in a small underground box under the pavement, footpath or grass verge near the front boundary of your property. It could be in the road. Sometimes we use a box on an outside wall.

If you live in a flat or communal property and have an individual meter, it may be inside the building, next to the stopcock.

The position of the water meter does not affect the property owner’s responsibility to maintain the pipework and fittings.


How long does it take to get a meter?

We aim to install your meter within 60 days of receiving your signed application form, phone call or online application.

Installation could be delayed if we have to wait for local authority permission to dig up the road, or if alterations to your plumbing are necessary, for example.

If we don’t fit the meter within the timeframe shown above and the delay is our fault, we won’t charge you for water until the meter is fitted and we’ll credit your water account with £10.


When is the meter read?

We aim to read your meter every six months. We use the readings to work out how much to charge you for each half-yearly period. If you need to have your meter read quickly because you are moving home, please call Customer Service on 01202 590059, giving us at least ten working days’ notice.

If we can’t read the meter, or if it stops, we will estimate how much water you have used. This estimate will be based on your previous use or the best information available at the time.


When do I get my metered bill?

Your bill (or statement if you pay monthly by Direct Debit) will arrive in the post shortly after the meter has been read. It will show:

  • how much water you have used in the six months up to the date of the meter reading (or an estimate) and
  • the standing charge for the next six months


Can all homes have a meter?

We can install a meter in most properties. However, we won’t be able to install one if:

  • you have a fixed-term tenancy of less than six months
  • a bulk meter already exists – this usually applies to blocks of flats and caravan parks
  • it is not practical to fit one because you share your water supply with neighbours, for example
  • installation is not straightforward and you do not want to pay the charge to have one fitted

If you live in a flat and your supply is self-contained with no shared storage tanks, you will probably be able to have an individual meter for your property. Otherwise the managing agents or residents’ association must agree to having a communal one installed. 

If we cannot install a meter at your property, we can charge you a fixed yearly amount, based on the number of people in your household and average water use. This is known as an assessed charge.


Can I have a meter if I live in a rented property?

As a paying tenant you have a legal right to go onto a water meter if you choose. Please make sure that the landlord or property owner knows that you are applying for one.

The landlord or owner cannot stop us installing a meter unless there is a reason, such as major plumbing works or alterations being necessary.


Are meters compulsory or optional?

Meters are only compulsory if the property has a meter already, is changing hands or was built after 1990. They are also compulsory if you have garden sprinklers, a swimming pool or other fixtures that use a lot of water.

Please see our Water Charges booklet for details.


What if you can’t install a meter at my property?

We can base your bill on an assessed charge. This is the charge for 60 cubic metres (60,000 litres) of water per person per year.


How will a meter affect my Direct Debit?

We will automatically transfer your current Direct Debit to your new, metered water account. When you apply for a meter, the meter application form gives you the option of monthly payments – otherwise payments are twice yearly.

If your meter is not optional, please contact Customer Service on 01202 590059 if your Direct Debit needs changing.


How can I get my meter read?

Please call Customer Service on 01202 590059 and give us at least ten working days’ notice.


Can I read my own meter?

If you can get to your meter easily and safely, you can use this online form to send your meter reading to us: Send us your meter reading.

Most meters are in public areas, under pavements, footpaths, grass verges or roads. If your meter is in the road, please ask us to come and read it for you.

How to read your meter


Can I refuse to have a water meter fitted?

Only if having a meter is optional for you. We have a duty to promote water efficiency and metering is an excellent way to do this.

The rules on compulsory metering come under the 1999 Water Act. So if we plan to install a meter, it’s because we have a legal right to do so.

If you feel that there is a strong case why you should not have a meter, please let us know and we’ll look into it.

Our metering policy


Who is responsible for the meter?

The meter belongs to us and we’re responsible for maintaining or replacing it. If you damage or misuse the meter, you will have to pay for repairs or a replacement.

You are responsible for all the water recorded by the meter, the pipe that runs from your property boundary to your internal stopcock, and all the plumbing in your home.


Why is the sewerage company involved and who notifies them?

Most of the water you use goes into the sewer, so when a meter is installed, we need to let the sewerage company know. We also send them meter readings so they can work out your sewerage bill.

Sewerage charges are based on a percentage of your water use. This allows for garden watering or other outdoor uses:

Wessex Water – 95%
Tel: 0345 600 3600 
Southern Water – 92.5%
Tel: 0330 303 0277 

If you think that the amount of your water returned to the sewer is different to the figures shown above, please contact your sewerage company.


Can I change my mind about having a meter?

If you have asked us to install a meter and you would like to go back to unmetered bills, you can if you meet these conditions:

  • the new meter was optional (not compulsory)
  • the meter has been in place for 12 months, and
  • you ask us to remove it in writing before the end of the 24th month

This is because it takes a full year to get a fair comparison of your metered and unmetered bills.


Can I be sure my meter is accurate?

We try to ensure that all our meters comply with the latest European Commission directive on measuring instruments. If you think that your meter is not recording correctly, we will get it independently tested for you. 

If your meter is faulty, we will pay for a new one to be fitted and adjust your bill accordingly. If we find your meter is working correctly, we will charge you a testing fee (maximum £70).


Where can I get more information?

For more on optional metering, please see our booklet Your Option to Meter

Press Office

Journalists can contact the Press Office on 01392 443020 or via email


Should you get a water meter?

Water meters have important benefits for you, for us and for the environment as you can have more control over your water use and leaks are easier to detect.  

Find out more

Ask us a question...