Think about it…people brush their teeth every day. At least I hope they do, and please more than once! This mundane task might not seem like an area of huge revenue impact for water utilities and municipalities. But think again.

Rinsing a toothbrush before brushing causes a burst flow. In my household, which has 4 family members, we should be creating at least 8 of these per day by brushing our teeth. I’ll be honest, with two children ages 13 and 8, I would guess it’s more like 6 bursts on a good day. A VERY good day. Over the course of a week, we would create at least 48 burst flows. Think of the impact beyond one household and add in other burst flow tasks like rinsing a razor.

Water use equals revenue and every drop counts. So what if your meter isn’t measuring every drop? How do you know?

A study, conducted at Utah Water Research Laboratory, Utah State University, put four meter types and seven meter models through 36 tests.

What did the research conclude?

  • While burst flows are small volumes, they add up over time. The result could be a significant revenue loss that not all meters are able to measure.
  • Electromagnetic meters, like ally® and iPERL®, were basically unaffected by burst flows.
  • Ultrasonic meters may frequently misread burst flows.

So what should water service providers do?

  • Read the study
  • If you don’t have electromagnetic meters, don’t panic! Burst flows most likely won’t break the bank. Look at the impact based on number of meters and do some math to find the potential revenue loss.