WEST FARGO — New water meters that will allow West Fargoans to closely monitor their water usage and be alerted if there is a leak or sudden high usage will soon be installed in homes across the city.

Homeowners are asked to wait for a postcard that will be sent via mail to city of West Fargo water customers to schedule an appointment. Communications Director Melissa Richard said the postcards will give homeowners an idea of when their home is eligible to schedule installation.

In November, the West Fargo City Commission unanimously approved spending about $2.8 million on replacing 9,000 water meters throughout the city. Installation of the new meters will cost about $2.8 million with an annual cost of about $25,000 for operation but Public Works Director Matt Andvik said it will not cost residents an increase in fees.

Andvik said the city is growing, and his department is seeing 30 to 50 endpoints going dead each month, a number that would likely increase to 50 to 100 in the near future. In then next five years, he said, about 7,000 meters will need new endpoints or full replacements.

Of the new 9,000 meters, about 1,000 would include remote shutoff capability for the city. The new meters will come with meter usage metrics online that residents will be able to view anytime. Residents can also receive alerts from the system that would tell them if an unusual spike in usage occurs.

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Andvik said if a resident sees a spike in their bill they can view usage online and determine if their house has a leak or another issue that may be causing an increase.

Two base stations will be installed at the 40th Avenue Tower and the other at the 12th Avenue tower.

Andvik added that the software will give the city an ability to leverage the system and use it in other applications, such as river sensors and lift stations.

The new meters will have no moving parts and have a 15-year guarantee. Installation is expected to take about 15 to 20 minutes for each meter. If surrounding cities wanted to use similar meters in the future, West Fargo's network would be able to work with them.

Homeowners can request separate meters that would be able to track the water they use for lawncare or irrigation, as well.

Once scheduling opens, residents are asked to schedule an appointment for a time when they are home. A Vanguard representative will need to reach the existing water meter located inside the home. The appointment should last 20-40 minutes. The representatives will have Vanguard photo ID badge, uniforms and signs on their vehicles. The representatives will also wear masks and maintain social distance during the appointments.

The new system connects smart meters, communication networks and data tools. This provides communication between utilities and customers. The City of West Fargo is the largest city in North Dakota to incorporate this innovative system. To track the project, visit https://www.westfargond.gov/1119/Advanced-Metering-Infrastructure-System.