Yuba County schools will soon have their traditional drinking fountains replaced with touchless water-filling stations thanks to a collaborative effort and grants.
“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has required all drinking fountains be disabled and students are now asked to bring their own water bottle to school,” said Amy Nore, communications coordinator for the Yuba County Office of Education, in a press release.
In April, working with Jackie Sillman, community impact specialist from Yuba Water Agency, the Yuba County Office of Education was successful in receiving $68,735 in grant funds from Cal Recycle Bottle and Cans.
The grant funding, which includes a discounted price on the water-filling stations from Pace Supply, will replace 58 drinking fountains at 13 school sites.
“Jackie and I knew we couldn’t stop here,” Nore said in a press release. “We were on a mission to find additional grant opportunities so that all school sites in our five districts would have access to the new touchless water-filling stations.”
On June 1, members of the board of directors from Yuba Water Agency voted to approve the grant request of $86,210.
The additional grant funding will complete the replacement of the remaining 74 drinking fountains at 20 additional school sites – expected to benefit more than 14,000 students and staff.
“At Yuba Water, we are limited in how we can spend our funds, in that it has to be tied to our mission areas,” Sillman said in a press release. “This was one way our board felt that they could invest in water conservation that can touch thousands of students’ lives for many years to come. It feels so great to be part of an organization that has the ability to make such amazing contributions to the community we all love so much.”
Nore said the first round of water-filling stations are planned to arrive in the middle of July and the rest are scheduled to arrive in mid-August.
“It provides easier access to water,” she said. “(Students) can get more water at a faster rate … they’ll be able to fill up their water bottle in seconds.”
According to a grant request submitted by the Yuba County Office of Education along with Camptonville, Marysville Joint Unified, Plumas Lake Elementary, Wheatland Elementary and Wheatland Union High School districts, some of the benefits of the water-filling stations include:
–Minimizing the chance of contamination. With water at the stations being filtered, studies show there is a lesser chance of seeing lead or chlorine appear in the water.
–Helping to reduce the use of single-use plastics that impact the environment and decrease pressure that water bottles put on the recycling industry.
–Providing a touchless system decreases the possibility of spreading germs.
–Providing quicker and easier access to drinking water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that providing access to water gives students a healthy alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages. It helps to increase students’ overall water consumption, maintain hydration and reduce energy intake if substituted for sugar-sweetened beverages. Adequate hydration may also improve cognitive function in children and adolescents.
“This collaborative effort supports the Yuba Water Agency’s Strategic Plan to proactively seek out new approaches to solving problems and encourages striving to find long term common-sense solutions that are environmentally sustainable and financially responsible. Installing water-filling stations at school sites is an innovative and environmentally sustainable approach to providing students with accessible drinking water,” it was stated in the press release. “Investing in our students and staff in this capacity helps solve an out-of-date water source and provides much needed hydration to our students.”
Nore said the Yuba County Office of Education is also working to provide water containers for all students in the county’s schools.