Raises awareness about the importance of safe drinking water
Builds community partnerships to install safe water taps in schools and neighborhoods where they're needed most
Develops long-term solutions for rural water quality and access problems.
but millions of Americans still go without this access. Aging infrastructure and water quality issues abound. Common contaminants such as arsenic, which is often naturally occurring, can cause cancer, thyroid problems, and other serious health issues. This is especially of concern for children, who are one of the most susceptible populations when it comes to negative health impacts of poor water quality.
Fund bottle filling stations in schools and key community sites to help deliver safe, appealing and affordable drinking water
Provide student and community education on local water quality issues and promote healthy beverage choices.
Provide capacity building via training and technical assistance to school and community sites to ensure ongoing safe water access
Establish models and success stories for other schools, communities, funders and policy makers on how to access and promote safe water.
Arsenic and lead are just two of many drinking water contaminants of concern. The Flint water crisis in 2014 elevated the conversation on lead in drinking water, in particular, and states and the federal government took action. With additional funding for lead testing programs and more rigorous requirements under the pending Lead and Copper Rule Revision, we may uncover additional unhealthy lead levels at schools and childcare facilities across the country. Mitigating these issues once discovered will be a challenge for public water systems and schools/childcare facilities alike, especially those in rural disadvantaged communities where resources and technical capacity are limited.
Older plumbing materials in schools and/or childcare facilities may contribute to elevated lead levels in drinking water, regardless if the water is considered safe to drink when entering the facility. The potential for lead to leach into water increases the longer the water remains in contact with leaded plumbing materials. As a result, facilities with intermittent water use patterns, such as schools, may be more likely to have elevated concentrations in drinking water. Large building and school closures due to COVID-19 are likely to only exacerbate the problem.
Even in communities where the water is safe to drink, adults and children alike often do not use the drinking fountains in schools, parks and other public places because they are either broken or dirty and unappealing. When reluctant to drink the public water supply, many low-income families spend more than 10 percent of their earnings buying bottled water, which has much less stringent regulations than tap water. Extensive use of bottled water also has major environmental impacts. Many also choose to consume sugar-sweetened beverages instead of water. This adds to existing challenges around the country with childhood obesity and early onset type 2 diabetes, which disproportionately impact communities of color.
CDC Healthy Schools has developed a series of professional development microlearning modules focused on increasing access to drinking water in schools.
Each video lasts less than 5 minutes, and can help school administrators, teachers, wellness coordinators, and school health committees learn more about the steps to take and resources available to help schools:
The National Office has developed three new one pagers for the Agua4All program. The first is a brief overview one pager for general marketing and outreach about the program basics. The second is double sided and more in-depth and may be useful for funders and others who might want more background info/needs assessment. The third is for outreach to potential schools and communities. Hopefully you find these helpful for existing A4A pilots and also into the future.
The California Endowment launched Agua4All in 2014 in partnership with nonprofit organizations Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), Community Water Center and Pueblo Unido CDC. Since the program's launch, RCAC's team has installed 442 water bottle filling stations in 93 schools in 36 rural California communities, and 177 point-of-use arsenic filters in six Arvin, California schools and various community buildings and parks. As the RCAP Network's western regional partner, RCAC's work in piloting Agua4All has led to opportunities to expand the program beyond California. RCAP completed a successful Agua4All pilot program in Texas and is now expanding to Virginia, Missouri and Montana. Program expansion has been made possible through partnerships with CoBank and the Chris Long Foundation.
In November 2019, the Center for Disease Control published an in-depth original research article featuring Agua4All. The study concluded that, "bottle-filling stations with safe water and site-led promotion are a promising strategy for increasing water intake in communities without safe tap water."