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The History of the Water Meter

December, 2019

The concept of a water meter is fairly straight forward—the idea being to measure the flow of water through a pipe—however the actual and accurate implementation is a bit more complicated. Everything from temperature, to pressure, to the angles of the pipes and build-up can affect the exactness of a meter read.

Another element that stalled the creation and refining of an accurate water meter was simply that there wasn’t a pressing need. Most places in the world did not sell water by volume until the mid-1800s, so innovation was understandably slow until then.

However, in the early 1500s, none other than Leonardo DaVinci conceived a prototype of what might be the first water meter ever. For him, water in all its forms was a subject of fascination, intrigue, and learning; his interest in measuring water was, mainly, educational—a way of studying it more closely.

So, it wasn’t until more than 350 years later that the need to meter water usage for economic purposes would be met with the first, official water meter. As cities grew, so grew the need to secure urban infrastructure from scandal and scam. Patented in 1855, a device created by Henry R. Worthington can claim to be America’s first water meter—it was durable, accurate, and set the tone for the metering of the future.

Today, nearly every home in America has a water meter, with the exception of those on private wells. Over the decades the inner-workings have been upgraded and refined, and there are hundreds of variations of the market—yet, the concept remains the same: How to precisely measure the amount of water as it flows.

Interesting fact: The National Museum of American History has the largest collection of US-made water meters from history in the world. The number totaling at 108 unique types.

At Accelerated Innovations, we are helping utilities around the world offer something more to their customers and their employees: progress, savings, and innovation. Our hosted customer self-service platform does it all, integrates seamlessly and delivers an outstanding digital experience for residential, commercial users of water, gas and electricity. With MyMeter® at the core of all we do, the possibilities are limitless.