Item Coversheet

 Item 8.

TO: Sustainability Resiliency Committee Meeting

Jimmy L. Morales, City Manager

DATE: July 11, 2018


Flavia Tonioli, Sustainability Manager
Item C4J - June 6, 2018 Commission Meeting
Commissioner Michael Gongora

On April 26, 2017, the Mayor and City Commission referred a discussion to the Sustainability and Resiliency Committee (SRC) regarding retrofitting water fountains with water bottle refill stations. This item was sponsored by Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez. At the June 14, 2017 SRC meeting, the Committee directed staff to estimate costs to retrofit water fountains at City Hall with water bottle refill stations. On October 30, 2017, SRC discussed costs related to retrofitting the existing water stations at City Hall and agreed to phase out older water fountains moving forward rather than retrofitting all existing units.


On June 6, 2018, the Mayor and City Commission referred a discussion to the Sustainability and Resiliency Committee (SRC) regarding increasing the city’s water bottle refill stations. The item was sponsored by Commissioner Michael Gongora.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, plastics account for 75% of the waste in landfills. Using water bottle refill stations reduces the amount of imperishable, one-time-use plastic water bottles that contribute toward this waste. Furthermore, most water bottle refilling stations have sensor-activated and touchless dispensers with an automatic shutoff timer that reduces water waste and easily accommodates reusable drinking cups and larger containers. 


Water bottle refill stations are becoming popular in municipal settings, especially in university campuses, parks, airports and buildings across the country. They allow users to fill reusable water bottles instead of drinking from plastic water bottles, thereby reducing single-use plastic consumption.


The City of New York has committed to install and repair 500 water fountains and water bottle refilling stations between 2015 and 2025. This effort will assist in reducing the use of single-use plastic bottles and increase access to public drinking water.


The University of Maryland installed 103 electronic water bottle refill stations on its campus and over a three year period, they have prevented almost 3 million plastic bottles from disposal. They reported the use of the stations has increased by an average of 660% annually over the first three years since installation.


Several airports in Miami, Portland, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, San Francisco, amongst others, have installed water bottle refill stations which have helped saved the use of single-use plastic bottles, mainly after the ‘liquids rule’ (which allows people to carry liquids only in containers of 3.4 ounces or less in carry-on bags and through the checkpoint) was adopted.


The cost of water bottle refilling stations can vary between $850 and $6,500 per unit, depending on features and installation location. However, most water fountain models can be retrofitted with a water bottle filling kit for approximately $700 to $1,400 per unit, eliminating the need for a stand-alone refilling station. These values do not account for the installation cost of the kit. On average, the water bottle refill stations are able to fill bottles at a rate of 1.5+ gallons per minute. Most of the stations can digitally calculate the number of plastic bottles saved. Some brands have automatic sensors that stop the flow of water when the bottle is full, an additional tool for water conservation.


Currently, when the City’s Parks & Recreation and Property Management Department replace old water fountains at their facilities, they replace them with a variety of different water bottle filling stations. To date 27 stations have been installed:


·         7 at Flamingo Park, three at the Scott Rakow Youth Center

·         1 at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas

·         1 at the Parks Maintenance Yard

·         1 at the Police Athletic League (PAL)

·         7 at the North Shore Park Youth and Tennis Center

·         2 at the Muss Park

·         1 at the Polo Park

·         1 at the Fisher Park

·         1 at the Indian Beach Park

·         1 at Allison Park

·         1 at the Bandshell

·         1 at the Normandy Shores

·         1 at the restrooms at 14th Street

·         1 at the Fleet building


The facilities above were selected due to their high volume of users that engage in exercise/fitness type of activities at these facilities (Picture 1 and 2). More stations will be installed at Parks facilities pending on funding availability.


In addition, both the Property Management and Capital Improvement Projects Departments have been considering water bottle filling stations for retrofits and new construction projects. In order to have more units within City’s properties and facilities and retrofit existing units rather than phase out older water fountains, funds would have to be allocated. Based on the previous proposal from the Property Management Department, the materials required for installation would cost about $2K for the stations and the labor is estimated at about $1,200 per water bottle refill station. For Parks, the cost per station is higher at $6,500 since they use the chilled multi-use water fountain with water bottle filling capabilities (picture 2) and installation cost would vary from $3K to $10K pending on existing infrastructure (plumbing, electrical, etc).  


There are also 16 Woosh stations deployed across the city. Woosh is a network of smart water stations that provide ultra-purified and ice-cold water, that users pay a small fee to use it (on average $0.50 per regular refill). Woosh has a pilot program with the city which includes the installation of 25 stations. Woosh will be implementing additional 9 stations throughout this year and over the next year the city will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of this program.


Free access to potable drinking water is fundamental to reduce incidents of heat exhaustion, as extreme heat events become more frequent and intense in the U.S. as a result of climate change. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heat waves are associated with increased hospital admissions, with cardiovascular and respiratory diseases or well-known heat-related diseases, such as heat stroke or dehydration. Cities play a fundamental role to increase efforts to distribute fresh drinking water to the public and assist in mitigating the health effects of heat stress.


Several cities have also invested on ‘iconic’ water fountains that not only provide free access to potable drinking water but also become an attraction to the city. For example, the City of Rotorua (New Zealand) has installed iconic drinking water fountains at key community locations to provide free access to potable drinking water and encourage re-use of water bottles (picture 1). Several iconic water fountains in Europe are historic water fountains that also function as water bottle stations as well as attractions for visitors, such as the one shown in Picture 4 at Place Paul-Verlaine in Paris, France.


The following is presented to the members of the Sustainability and Resiliency Committee for discussion and further direction. In order to have more water bottle refill stations within City’s properties and facilities and retrofit existing units rather than phase out older water fountains, funds would have to be allocated. The Administration recommends that the SRC allocates funds if there is a desire to retrofit the existing fountains and further install additional fountains across the city. 

Attachment: Water Fountain PicturesOther