Kicking the plastic bottle habit: Hillsborough County installing hydration stations

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. - It is no secret that the summer months are hot. With so many kids spending their days under the sun's heat, there is an added pressure for them to stay hydrated.

Hillsborough County is taking steps to not only make sure there's cool water for everyone, but also to limit plastic waste.

"It's like really hot outside, and they want a fresh drink of water when they come inside," said Olivia Cannella while gesturing at the newly installed water filling station at her recreational center.

The center is where Cannella and other kids attend a summer camp.

Hillsborough County installed around 60 water filling stations at various parks, libraries, recreational centers and schools. The machines are attached to the top of already existing water fountains.

To get the water, a bottle is placed in front of the marked sensor. The water just pours out till the bottle is removed from in front of the sensor.

There is a little tracker on the top right corner of each station letting people know how many plastic water bottles have been saved.

Each station costs about $1,200 to install. The only upkeep for these stations is changing the filters. They cost about $70 but they last for every 3,000 gallons of water.

At Skyway Park in Tampa, the baseball and football players have put the two stations there to good use. Over 2,700 plastic water bottles have been saved at just one of the stations.

If the average cost of one water bottle is $1.50, that is a savings of over $4,000 for people living in the neighborhood.

"Constantly. We fill it up like five to ten times," said Andres Gonzalez, a baseball player, who practices every day. "Especially with the humidity and all the hotness. It's very easy for you to drink a lot of water in this weather."

He emphasized how important it is for him and his teammates to stay hydrated.

"It's good that we have these stations. Easy and quick and efficient for us. Kind of a grab and go thing," Gonzalez said.

According to Kara Walker, senior public relations strategist for Hillsborough County, the water filling stations have saved about 23,700 plastic bottles in the Brandon-area alone over the past 15 months. That station is averaging a savings of more than 1,500 bottles a month.

If you'd like to find out if a hydration station is near you - take a look at the map.

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