California Win for School Water Bottle Filling Stations
California will now require all newly-constructed K-12 public schools, as well as any undergoing modernization, to provide water bottle filling stations. Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 2638 into law on September 29, 2022, after it received unanimous approval in its passage through the California Assembly and Senate.
In a win for equity, AB 2638 author Assemblymember Bloom was also successful in gaining an additional $5 million dollars for the Drinking Water in Schools Program in the California State Budget for FY 2022-23 (AB 179, page 356). Disadvantaged schools were prioritized from the outset for this program that provides funds and technical assistance for school drinking water safety and access, including new water stations and point of entry (POE) and point of use (POU) water filtration for contaminants. Previous allocations to this program were $9.5M in 2017 (SB 828; Guidelines) with awards made to about 70 school districts, and $6.8M in 2019 (SB 862; the approved funding list for “Round 2” has not yet been released).
AB 2638 also states that K-12 public schools “shall encourage water consumption through promotional and educational activities and signage that focus on the benefits of drinking water and highlight water bottle filling stations throughout schools.” This is important because studies show that children are most likely to consume more water in place of sugary drinks when drinking water is not only made more accessible but also actively promoted. Check out NDWA’s Education pages for resources to promote and educate about drinking water.
The calls to provide water bottle filling stations in schools are multiplying. Learn more:
Drinking water recommendations for the 2022 White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health (includes links to four different sets of recommendations)