Where: South Kern County, California

Issue: Some areas of the community lack access to safe drinking water and kids and their families face negative health impacts from not drinking enough water

Outcome: Through the Agua4All program, RCAC has installed nearly 200 water bottle filling stations in schools and communities to increase access to and consumption of safe drinking water, 81 of which were installed in South Kern

More than one million Californians lack access to safe drinking water, and their only alternatives are expensive bottled water or sugary beverages. Low-income, predominately Hispanic communities in the state are disproportionately impacted, which factors in to a public health crisis whereby one in three Hispanics and nearly half of the state’s adults are pre-diabetic.

The Agua4All program was launched with the support of The California Endowment in 2014 and initiated at schools in the Eastern Coachella Valley and southern Kern County in partnership with Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), Community Water Center and Pueblo Unido Community Development Corporation.

According to our evaluation, after installation of the bottle filling stations in South Kern, residents drank 57 cups of water per day on average in Lamont and 58 cups per day in Arvin. In Lamont, prior to station installation, 5 percent of residents consumed water from the water sources at intervention sites. After installation, that increased to 12 percent. In addition to the new infrastructure RCAC and partners also supported an education and promotional campaign which increased water consumption by residents per day from 12 to 26 percent. Since the gradual installation of more than 125 point of use arsenic remediation filters in Arvin, beginning in summer 2015, residents have consumed more than 100,000 gallons of treated, safe drinking water. The project has attracted national attention and enjoyed great success—so much so that it is now set to expand beyond the pilot areas, with a plan to install at least 200 more water-bottle filling stations including expansion within Kern County to communities like Wasco and Greenfield.

RCAC is very proud to announce that based on the need throughout the state and the pilot program’s success that the state of California has included $10 million in their annual budget for schools to install bottle filling stations and treatment where necessary to increase safe water access and consumption for better health.