Water Meter Replacement Program

Dear Residents,


The Howard County Bureau of Utilities has resumed our water meter replacement initiative in Howard County that involves the upgrade of all 45,000 residential meters.  The existing meters in the system are approaching their useful life which is the basis for this program.  It is essential that these meters are replaced to ensure that accurate and timely water usage data is obtained.  In fact, some water meters have already failed resulting in the need to estimate water bills.


This is a major effort. To support this effort, the Howard County Bureau of Utilities has contracted with Vanguard Utility Service to provide a call center and on-line appointment scheduler.  Vanguard Utility Service has performed this role well for other municipalities, and all Vanguard installers are well trained in the replacement of water meters.


The meter replacement is 100% free to you! Due to the fact that the water meter is located inside your home, access to your home by appointment is necessary.  The meter changeout should take only about 20 to 30 minutes.  It will be performed by one installer that is wearing all of the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).  This includes gloves that must be worn during any water meter work and masks upon request. The installers will also be provided with additional safety training that includes post pandemic CDC compliant best practices, such as frequent hand washing, social distancing, and staying home if they are feeling ill.


  • Appointments are currently available Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm
  • Saturday appointments are available on a first come, first-served basis
  • Authorized Vanguard Utility Service technicians will be in uniform and have Howard County Photo ID badges.  Their vehicles will also have a magnetic placard located on the vehicle.

We request that you:

  • Promptly call the Vanguard call center at (866) 296-8283 or use the following link to schedule an appointment once you receive your postcard. http://www.vusinc.com/HowardCoMD.php
  • Ensure that the meter is accessible by clearing obstructions from around the water meter area with a 5-foot radius.
  • Have someone 18-years or older present to admit the installer
  • We ask that you maintain 6 feet of separation during the replacement process for yours and the installer’s safety.
  • If your basement has a separate entrance and you prefer, it can be utilized to access the water meter.




Water Meter Replacement Contractor

For our program to be successful, we need your support! 




Water Meter Transmitters:

Old type water meter radio transmitter

Old type water meter radio transmitter
Old type water meter radio transmitter

 New type water meter radio transmitter


 New type water meter radio transmitter

The top section of the water meter houses a low power radio transmitter that sends water usage data to meter reading trucks. This data is used to compute water bills. These devices use batteries that are coming to the end of their useful life of ten years.

The Bureau of Utilities will be replacing the radio transmitter with new units that will be more reliable and have a twenty year life span.

Questions can be answered by calling the Bureau of Utilities during normal working hours at 410-313-4980. 


Bureau of Utilities - Water Meter Division

The Meter Division reads over 78,000 water accounts for billing purposes.  Of those meters, 70% are installed inside a residence or commercial building. Remaining meters are installed in a meter vault that is in the ground, near the property line.


Check for leaks -Before contacting a plumber

Did You Know?

A running toilet is the most common cause for increased water usage.

Perform a simple test on ALL toilets:

  • Add food coloring to tank of all toilets
  • Let coloring sit for at least an hour
  • Check to see if water color in bowl has changed

If the color of the water in the bowl has changed, repairs are needed.

Other things to check….

  • Water heater leakage around the tank
  • Exterior hose connection leaks
  • Standing water on the property may indicate a leak of underground piping, particularly during dry weather

Other Reasons Could Be….

  • An increase in household members/guests
  • Filling or topping off swimming pool and/or other water toys
  • Additional time spent at home during summer or holidays
  • Lawn or garden watering
  • Sprinkler or irrigation use
  • Power washing

The division responds to inquiries regarding:

Low/ High water pressure inside the home. When a resident experiences a pressure problem it may be due to a faulty pressure regulator valve (PRV). This valve controls the main water pressure coming into the house. It may be the PRV causing the noisy meter/ banging pipe problem as well. This concern should be directed to a plumber, the Meter Division is responsible for the water meter only:

Water leaks from the meter. Stopped and noisy meter related issues. It is important to know the location of the inside water shut-off valve. Having access to this valve so that it can be closed, would help minimize damage in the event of a broken water pipe and allow for general plumbing repairs. Water dripping from leaking plumbing fixtures can be costly, causing a sudden increase in water and sewer bills and should be addressed as soon as possible. A leak of one drop per second can waste up to 2400 gallons of water a year. A leaking toilet can waste as much as 200 gallons a day.

The Bureau of Utilities' "Water Only Submeters Policy for Commercial and Industrial Water/Sewer Accounts" , including the Submeter Permit Application Form , is now available online.

Please see the Submeters Policy page for additional information.

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