Water safety in California public schools following implementation of school drinking water policies

A new study, Water Safety in California Public Schools Following Implementation of School Drinking Water Policies, published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease in December 2020, provides findings from an investigation of drinking water safety in a random sample of 240 California schools. Fully 16% of study schools received water from a utility that was in violation of tap water safety standards at the time of analysis. Analysis of data collected through California's recently mandated program to test school drinking water for lead found that while only 3% of schools had at least one tap with a lead exceedance above the CA state action level of 15 ppb, 16% of schools had at least one tap that exceeded federal standards for bottled water (i.e., 5 ppb). Further, 27% of CA schools had not reported test results by 3.5 months after the deadline for compliance, and there was room for improvement in the implementation of the mandate. The paper concludes with policy and implementation recommendations. The study was conducted by researchers at Stanford University, University of California Nutrition Policy Institute, and Virginia Tech and funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Healthy Eating Research program.