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City upgrading water meters

Soon all city of West Fargo residents and businesses will have the same style of water meters that will make them more time-efficient to read, and also result in yearly cost savings for the city.

West Fargo City Commissioners unanimously approved a water meter upgrade replacement project at their Dec. 3, 2012 meeting that is now moving into high gear and will result in the installation of 1900 meters for existing customers that will make them all radio-read.

Total cost of the work will be $502,778 which will be funded through budgeted sources for 2013, including water meter budget $100,000, capital improvements $100,000, southside hookup excess funds $102,788 and a loan from the general fund reserve of $200,000. Annual savings for the set-up will be about $82,000 with total payback projected in six years.

Ferguson Waterworks, an experienced local meter installation contractor, will be working with the city to conduct the upgrades which are being coordinated in phases. The process has already been in the works over the last decade.

City Finance Director Tina Gustafson, who has been spearheading the effort, said city staff “feels the timing is now right to finish installation so everyone can take advantage of the benefits.” She emphasized there is no cost to the customer for this meter replacement, but everyone must have their water meter replaced.

There are about 9,000 water meters in the city with the next upgrades affecting all citizens whose residents and businesses haven’t had their water meters yet replaced. A portion were notified by letter this last week and directed to schedule an appointment within two weeks of receiving the letter to have their meter traded out.

Gustafson added that the new system will be extremely efficient allowing all meters to be read in one day’s time, the same day each month, by an employee driving through the community resulting in a more consistent water usage reading for citizens.

In the past for those without the replaced meter, city employees physically walked the routes and recorded the readings usually at time intervals several days apart each month, resulting in varying water bills.

Gustafson encourages citizens who received the notification to contact Ferguson Waterworks to set up an appointment which will require a two-hour time block. There must be an individual 18 years or older present at the time so the crews can gain access to the water meter inside the home or business; and the water meter area must be clear and accessible.

Appointments can be made by calling 1-877-737-7174 or visiting their website at: Evening and weekend appointments are available upon request.

If it becomes necessary to send second and third notices to residents for the replacement process, the third time could mean that with the conversion completed, there will no longer be the ability to manually read the meters and services could be subject to disconnection until an upgraded meter is installed. If it does become necessary to disconnect service for this reason, a $30 fee will be charged.

Gustafson said that city staff would like to thank everyone for their cooperation so far in making this a successful program. “The city is really looking forward to completion of this program as it will allow us to serve all our citizens better.”

Anyone with additional questions is welcome to call West Fargo City Hall at 701-433-5300.