AUSTIN, Texas — It could cost nearly $1 million to install 10 new drinking fountains throughout Downtown Austin as part of an effort by some council members to make free drinking water more accessible for everyone.
In a city memo released on Thursday, Austin Water identified 10 proposed locations for these fountains. At least two of them would be in the vicinity of the ARCH shelter on Seventh Street.
The ADA-compliant fountains would be free to use 24/7 and would be located in well-lit areas, according to the City. Each fountain would contain three components: a drinking fountain, a bottle-filling station and a pet fountain.
Austin Water estimates the project to install all 10 fountains could cost between $700,000 and $750,000. The cost includes the fountain unit, water service, wastewater service, installation, permitting, engineering and project management costs, according to the memo.
The annual cost to operate and maintain the fountains could cost about $63,000, which would be used to pay a full-time maintenance worker to clean and sanitize each fountain daily.
It's possible the costs could be reduced if the city collaborates with other agencies on other ongoing projects, the memo stated.
At least three of the drinking fountains would be in the same location of the city's new public restroom facilities.
Rich Cleary, who exercises outside regularly, told KVUE he welcomes the proposal, despite the cost of the project.
"Especially senior citizens, old people, I think this heat, it's definitely got to get to them," Cleary said. "If it just prevents one person a year from having a heat stroke incident, I think that could be worth it."
Another Austinite, who told KVUE he takes his 1-year-old dog on long walks daily, said he initially welcomed the idea until he learned the cost of the project.
"I think that's going to be one of the things that we're going to love," the man said, "but that price tag ... it's just so hard to justify."
If the city council moves forward with the idea to install these 10 fountains, Austin Water said its 2020 budget could cover the costs.
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