266775 Getting Up to Code: The costs associated with providing access to drinking water during the school day

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 11:13 AM - 11:24 AM

Angie L. Cradock, ScD , Harvard Prevention Research Center, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Cara Wilking, JD , Public Health Advocacy Institute, Northeastern University School of Law, Boston, MA
Sarah Olliges, MS , Harvard Prevention Research Center, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Steven Gortmaker, PhD , Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Background: Adequate water intake may have important health benefits for students. Different federal, state, and local policies are relevant to provision of water within schools. Recently passed state and federal laws require free drinking water access for students during mealtimes and throughout the school day. States also have specific requirements for plumbed drinking water access points in school buildings in their plumbing codes. Purpose: Review national and state-specific policy content related to water access, provide estimates of costs for three water provision strategies, and discuss implications for policy relevant to access to adequate drinking water. Methods: Legal research was conducted using the Lexis legal database and government websites. Model plumbing code and state-specific plumbing code requirements were reviewed. Costs of providing water during meal times and throughout the school day are estimated using the perspective of the school district based on current state plumbing code requirements, student enrollment, and the number of schools in each state. Results: State-specific plumbing code requirements for per-student water sources in school buildings vary from 1:75 (Massachusetts) to 1:100 (majority of states). Up-front, annual, and 10-year cost estimates for providing water to students including dispenser unit, installation, water testing, water, cups, and labor will be discussed. Water provision strategies relying on tap water are more economical than bottled water in the long term. Discussion: Policy recommendations and cost considerations deserve attention at the local, state and federal levels. Action is needed to ensure student access to safe drinking water throughout the school day.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Review policy related to drinking water access in schools in US states. 2. Estimate potential costs associated with different strategies for drinking water provision during the school day based on current state policies and plumbing code. 3. Discuss implications for policy relevant to access to adequate drinking water.

Keywords: Policy/Policy Development, School Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal or co-principal of multiple federally and foundation funded grants focused on physical actiivty and nutrition policy research, including evaluation access to water in schools.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.