Trying to understand the set up (both physically & from a charge-for-usage perspective) of the water meter in my condo building.

As far as I can tell, this appears to be a single usage meter, with lines after the meter going to each unit. How would charges be distributed by the water provider as a result? Surely there is no way for the meter to distinguish which unit the water usage is going to right? Resultantly, there should be just one water bill for the whole condo building, with no delineation by unit?

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  • 3
    That is not a meter for the building. It appears to be a meter for a single unit.
    – RMDman
    Dec 1, 2023 at 2:17
  • 5
    yeah how would a whole building be fed from 3 x 1/2" lines. That is three fixtures or at most 6 cold water fixtures. Dec 1, 2023 at 2:25
  • How many units/apartments are there in the building? If more than 5, this is not the whole building meter.
    – jpa
    Dec 1, 2023 at 13:14
  • It could be to check that the sum of the individual meters doesn't show anyone bypassing their individual meter, but as you didn't mention having your own meter, I suppose not. Dec 1, 2023 at 17:44

1 Answer 1


Yes it's possible that the whole building could be fed through a single meter. It's possible even that many buildings could be fed through a single meter. I'm aware of one such condo community in my city: the two newest buildings of 4 units each have a meter in one unit; the older part of the community has many buildings fed through a single meter and a 6 or 8 inch distribution system throughout that part of the community. I'm also aware of a single-family home community done similarly: there are about 30 individual homes all served through a single meter. This practice is called "master metering."

You're correct: it would be impossible to bill each tenant for their usage when the water is metered this way. Instead, a single entity, a home owners association of some sort, pays the bill. They in turn charge the condo owners a periodic association fee to recoup the community costs which include the consumption charges for all of their master meter(s).

  • 2
    My flat has no separate meter as well. Our house has 15 flats, 5 single-room, 5 one bedroom plus living room, and 5 two bedroom ones. The costs are distributed according to "permanent-occupant person-days". E.g., I live alone, so I have to pay for 365 days. My neighbor in the larger flat also lives alone, so they pay for 365 days as well. My other neighbors are a family of three, but their child moved out in Summer, so they pay 365+365+180 days. And so on. Obviously, this assumes everybody uses the same amount of water. Having guests or sleepovers doesn't count, neither does going on vacation. Dec 1, 2023 at 10:53
  • @Greg Hill, Your info is exactly correct. However the picture provided in the OPs' post is one that could not properly supply water to multiple residences unless they were 1 room 300sq ft' huts.
    – RMDman
    Dec 1, 2023 at 12:59
  • @RMDman I'm not so sure of that. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that vertical copper manifold is 1-1/4 pipe and the branches are 3/4. A condo might have just one full and one half baths, plus a kitchen, and 3/4 would be reasonable for serving that. The branches look larger than 1/2 to me though admittedly there's not really anything useful for scale included in the photo. Most of all that water meter "feels" large to me -- it looks more substantial than the 5/8" meters I see for single-family homes in my area.
    – Greg Hill
    Dec 1, 2023 at 14:45
  • 1
    I used to live in a place where they had this on a neighbourhood level. No water meters in any homes, only a nominal charge for a water connection, probably adjusted for the average water use. Atypical buildings still had to get water meters.
    – user253751
    Dec 1, 2023 at 16:16
  • That's a pretty beefy meter. My meter and PRV are both 1-1/4" and do not look anywhere near that big. I think scale is messing with us and that meter is 1-1/2" or larger and those laterals are 1". Perfectly adequate for a multi-unit, especially it it was retrofitted. Now let's talk about that S-trap behind it.... ;)
    – Chris O
    Dec 1, 2023 at 17:44

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