Upcycled Water Meters? Here’s How One Utility Got Its Pinterest On

When an Iowa water utility replaced its manual water meters, creativity broke loose. See how the team repurposed old equipment with these Pinterest-worthy ideas.
Upcycled Water Meters? Here’s How One Utility Got Its Pinterest On
This clock, created by upcycling a water meter, was designed to resemble a trickling filter.

Interested in Instrumentation?

Get Instrumentation articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Instrumentation + Get Alerts

When Duane Covington took over as superintendent of Chariton Waterworks almost two years ago, he resumed a project started by his predecessor — changing out old water meters in the Iowa community.

Some of those old meters may have a second life in store for them though, instead of the alternative — the scrap pile.

“We’re moving to a new radio-read system, so we’re replacing every meter we come across,” says Covington. “We’re scrapping most of them, but then we figured, 'Why scrap them?' and started playing around with ideas on how to repurpose some of them.”

Gut a meter’s components, add a glass front, run an aerator through the back, and you have a fish tank. Take the top portion of that meter and convert it into a clock. Those are a couple of the ideas that have become reality and are currently on display in Chariton Waterworks’ main office. The staff completed the projects during the winter when, outside of occasional waterline breaks, daily operations aren’t quite as busy.


Our fish tank with Bert the Betta....the guys made this from an old water meter. Stop in & check it out!

Posted by Chariton Waterworks on Friday, January 16, 2015


The clock was designed to resemble a trickling filter, and in January, Chariton Waterworks showcased its water meter turned fish tank featuring Bert the Betta in a Facebook post. Unfortunately, it was back to the drawing board not longer after. Lead contamination from the meter’s brass material meant a short stay for the fish tank’s first inhabitant.

“The meter is probably about 25 to 30 years old, so it’s an older style brass that was high in lead. Unfortunately, Bert died pretty quickly,” says Covington. “So we had to take it apart and coat the inside. We played around with different coatings until we found one that worked.”

Now the fish tank’s current occupant — a bullfrog tadpole — is doing well and will likely call the tank home for the next year and a half. The unusual fish tank has caught the attention of visitors to the office.

“Quite a few people have made comments,” Covington says. “They’ll say that they’ve never seen anything like it. There was a pet store owner who thought it was quite unique.”

Repurposing ideas continue to be mulled over at the utility, though nothing new has come to fruition as of late. The next creation from the Chariton Waterworks “old water meter” product line could be a candy machine.

“We’re still toying with that one,” Covington says. “We’re not exactly sure on how we want it to work. The idea came about because we have a candy bowl out in our office for the kids. We just wanted to see if we could do something different with it.”


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.