NPI research brief details steps to build effective access to drinking water

Apr 27, 2021

Drinking water is the healthy alternative to the sugary drinks that are a risk factor for many diet-related chronic diseases and tooth decay, and plain drinking water is also more environmentally friendly than packaged sugary drinks. Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) researcher Christina Hecht, who coordinates the National Drinking Water Alliance, received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Healthy Eating Research program to develop a 'photo-evidence' tool to document the condition of drinking water access in schools and other community locations. This work was conducted in collaboration with the University of Washington School of Public Health and Stanford Medicine Department of Pediatrics. The tool, Assessing the Quality of Water Access (AQWA), is designed for use by community or citizen scientists and allows a documentary and quantitative survey of the elements that should be present to maximize water consumption. The AQWA toolkit is available online. Critical elements in drinking water access, dubbed ‘Effective Access to Drinking Water' were identified by researchers during the development of the AQWA tool. These include water dispenser cleanliness, condition and accessibility, adequate water flow, presence of cups, and educational or promotional messaging about drinking water and healthy hydration. A new research brief, entitled ‘Effective Access to Drinking Water in Schools: What is it and why does it matter?' provides a summary of the research on the importance of these elements as well as the evidence base on school drinking water access around the US. The research brief is available online. Contact Christina Hecht, at, if your group might undertake a project using AQWA.