Water meter in the middle of a grassy area.
Provide Clear and Safe Access to Meters 03/29/2018

On the average day, an EWEB meter reader walks many miles reading 400 to 500 electric and water meters. This time of year, besides battling the western Oregon spring weather of 70 degrees and sunny one moment to torrential downpour the next, they also find themselves faced with the additional challenges of meters blocked by spring vegetation growth and more unsecured dogs. 

"With the alternating moisture and warm temperatures, hedges, shrubbery and other plants can grow at a rapid rate," says Jason Stuart, EWEB meter reading supervisor.

"Meter readers need to have clear access to electric meters, which can be obstructed by overgrown plants located close to the home or building. They also need to be able to locate and remove the lid on water meters," continues Jason."Imagine a barrel two feet in diameter and four feet tall above the water meter. That's about the amount of space a meter reader needs to take the lid off and position him or herself in a way to be able to get the reading."

It's up to the individual meter reader's discretion as to whether they trim vegetation back from meters. Generally, if the plant looks to be of high value (rose bush, Japanese maple and so on) meter readers will do their best to get the reading without damaging the plant and leave a doorhanger asking the customer to trim the plant. If the work required is extensive — such as a blackberry thicket or overgrown bamboo — a doorhanger is left requesting that the customer clear the area for access.

If an issue remains after repeated notice, a $50 access fee is added to your bill. 

"The fee is a last resort. We'd prefer to work with the customer to make sure we can safely and accurately read their meters each month," says Jason. 

Meter readers also find more customers leave their dogs outside as weather improves.

"We love dogs and many of us are dog owners ourselves," says Jason. "But even a friendly dog can become aggressive when protecting their owners and their home from a stranger. We also don't want to open a gate to access a meter and have your pet escape"

Customers with dogs can prepare for meter readers to help keep their pets and EWEB staff safe. Call Customer Service at 541-685-7000 or email eweb.answers@eweb.org to get the date of your next meter reading and keep pets indoors on scheduled meter-reading days. 

Providing accurate and timely meter readings is important to EWEB. We appreciate our customers help in ensuring there is safe, clear access for meter readers.