Dear Sirs,

The city put in a new electronic water meter which is connected
at the main shut off valve inside my house. Since this work was
done, I have been unable to turn off the water at the "main
shut off".

They actually took the old mechanical meter off and put the new
one right next to the valve. Did they do something to the valve
to keep it on (disable shut off)? How does an electronic meter

Some months later they came to repair a water main break outside.
Now there is a rod sticking up out of the ground with a disk and bolt head on the very top. The disk is stamped "water".
Is this a shut off valve, and can I use it myself as a main shut off. If I turn the bolt head clockwise will the water shut off?

I'm worried about an emergency broken pipe. I thought that
a short length of 3/8-1/2 inch rubber hose placed over the end
of a broken pipe and then pinched off might work. Is there
a better way to plug the end of a broken pipe (frozen in winter)?

thanks, Paul