The city maintains all water mains and service lines in the public right of way or city-owned easements. The homeowner is responsible for their private line that runs from the water meter to the home.

If you see water bubbling up or gushing from the street in the right of way, please contact the city’s 24-hour emergency line immediately at 425-452-7840. The city relies on reports from our residents to help us identify and fix small leaks before they become large breaks. Some areas have high amounts of naturally occurring groundwater. If necessary, the city can test the water to determine if it is drinking water or groundwater.

Drips and leaks on your property allow water and your money to go down the drain. A slow drip can use up to 15 to 20 gallons a day, while a toilet that keeps running can waste thousands of gallons of water a year. Leaks are estimated to waste more than 10% of indoor water supply, driving up water and sewer costs. Conserve water and save money by finding and fixing leaks.

Warning signs of home leaks 

  • Any obvious dripping faucet or fixture – often caused by a broken rubber seal
  • Continually or intermittently running toilets – most often caused by a loose flapper
  • Water pooling up from under an appliance, such as a washing machine, refrigerator or dishwasher
  • Pooling water in areas of your landscape or a wet spot on concrete that never dries
  • A higher-than-normal water bill

Detecting Leaks

Although most leaks can be heard or seen, many homes have hidden leaks that are easily overlooked. To track down any leaks:

  • Turn off of all water-using appliances and fixtures inside and outside your home. Use no water during the test period.
  • Locate you water meter at the front of your property (usually in a concrete box). Look for the white stripe on the curb that our meter readers use to find your meter.
  • Check the water meter: Most meter faces have a flow indicator. If there is no water being used at the time of inspection, and the flow indicator is spinning, there may be a leak somewhere in or around your home. Not all leaks are big and clearly noticeable. If the flow indicator is not moving, continue with these steps to further evaluate the situation:
    1. Write down the numbers on the meter's register. Wait 30 minutes without using any water inside or outside your home. Then take another reading from your meter's register. Compare it to the first reading. If the second reading is higher, there may be a leak.
    2. To pinpoint whether the leak is coming from inside or outside the home, close the house shut off valve (generally located on an outside wall where the water line enters the home, or near the water heater).
    3. Repeat Step 1. If the meter continues to move, the leak may be outside the home in the service line that leads from the meter to the home, or in any water-using device that may be hooked to the system outside the home.
    4. If the meter does not move after your second test, the leak may be inside the home.

Common Culprits

Leaking toilets or dripping faucets are the usual sources of leaks. A leaky toilet loses water from the tank into the bowl without being flushed. Many of these leaks are silent. To test for toilet leaks:

  • Lift the lid off the toilet tank and put five to 10 drops of food coloring into the tank.
  • Wait five minutes, then look in the bowl. If you see food coloring in the bowl, you have a leak.

In most cases, replacing the toilet flapper and/or the filling mechanism will correct the problem.

A leaky faucet is often the result of a bad rubber washer. The washer is typically located under the handle and can be easy to repair, if you have the right tools. Check the Internet for instructions on how to repair leaks. Many local home centers also offer good advice. If in doubt about any repair, seek a plumbing professional.

For help in determining if you have a leak, call Bellevue Utilities at 425-452-6973.

Leaks outside your home

The city maintains all water mains and service lines in the public right of way or city-owned easements. The homeowner is responsible for their private line that runs from the water meter to the home. Pooling water in areas of your landscape or a wet spot that never dries on concrete may be signs of a leak in that line. 

You should call a plumber to determine whether there is a leak and fix it if necessary. To prevent potentially severe damage to your property from a leak, you may want to shut off your water at the meter. 

Turning off water at the meter
Utility technicians use a meter valve key tool to operate the meter, available at local hardware stores. Another option: keep a crescent wrench and screwdriver inside the meter box for easy access in an emergency.

Most homes have a shut-off valve inside, typically in a basement or garage. If you don't have one, it's recommended to install. But in an emergency, and in case your underground water pipe breaks, you should know how to turn off your water at the water meter safely.

Locate your water meter

Water meters, owned and maintained by the City of Bellevue, are located in a small meter box in the ground near the street or edge of the property.

Look for a white stripe six- to eight-inches long painted on the curb. Crews use this stripe to quickly find the shutoff during emergencies. The water meter and shut-off valve are both located inside the meter box.

Can't find your water meter? Call us at 425-452-7840 for help.

To shut off your water at the meter

Suggested tools to turn off water at the meter
  • Grab your tools. An adjustable wrench and screwdriver work well. You can also purchase a meter valve key from local hardware stores.
  • Carefully lift the meter box lid.
  • Locate the meter shut off valve (you may need to dig around dirt - used for insulation).
  • Carefully turn the valve CLOCKWISE 90 degrees (see graphic at right)

Need help? Call us 24/7 in emergencies:

If you can't locate or operate the water meter safely, contact us at 425-452-7840. Crews are ready to assist 24/7 in emergency situations.

Please maintain safe and direct access to your water meter. By eliminating obstructions such as overgrown vegetation, gravel and parked vehicles, meter readers will be able to read the meter more easily, and it will be easier to turn off your water in the event of an emergency.