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Am J Public Health. 2014 Jul;104(7):1314-9. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301797. Epub 2014 May 15.

Tapping into water: key considerations for achieving excellence in school drinking water access.

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At the time of the study, Anisha I. Patel, Jacob M. Grumbach, and Claire D. Brindis were with the Division of Pediatrics and Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco. Kenneth Hecht and Ellen Braff-Guajardo were with California Food Policy Advocates, Oakland. Karla E. Hampton was with Changelab Solutions, Oakland.



We examined free drinking water access in schools.


We conducted cross-sectional interviews with administrators from 240 California public schools from May to November 2011 to examine the proportion of schools that met excellent water access criteria (i.e., location, density, type, maintenance, and appeal of water sources), school-level characteristics associated with excellent water access, and barriers to improvements.


No schools met all criteria for excellent water access. High schools and middle schools had lower fountain:student ratios than elementary schools (odds ratio [OR] = 0.06; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.02, 0.20; OR = 0.30, 95% CI = 0.12, 0.70). Rural schools were more likely to offer a nonfountain water source than city schools (OR = 5.0; 95% CI = 1.74, 14.70). Newer schools were more likely to maintain water sources than older schools (OR = 0.98; 95% CI = 0.97, 1.00). Schools that offered free water in food service areas increased from pre- to postimplementation of California's school water policy (72%-83%; P < .048). Barriers to improving school water included cost of programs and other pressing concerns.


Awareness of the benefits related to school drinking water provision and funding may help communities achieve excellence in drinking water access.

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