Elementary students drinking form water bottleWhere: Red Bluff, California

Problem: Evergreen Union School District had limited access to drinking water on its elementary school campus. Drinking stations were in disrepair and students didn’t use them.

Solution: RCAC helped the district secure funding under California’s Drinking Water for Schools (DWFS) grant to install new and retrofit existing fountains with water bottle filling stations.

Evergreen Union School District (EUSD) is a five-school district in northern Tehama County. Although the district serves just 1,350 students, it covers an area of more than 500 square miles. Bend Elementary School in EUSD had poor access to drinking water fountains. Existing stations were rusted or degraded; and other high traffic areas lacked fountains at all.

RCAC’s Agua4All program has helped schools increase access to safe drinking water since 2014. Agua4All rural development specialists help schools secure funding to upgrade their water access. They also work with a district’s superintendent and facilities staff from start to finish until the work is complete.

RCAC staff and the school’s administrators walked through Bend Elementary to determine the scope of work needed to install new bottle filling stations and fountains, and retrofit existing ones, so that students could have better access to drinking water on campus. After the site visit, RCAC helped create a budget proposal to submit to the state for the DWFS application. The administrators received a $27,272 grant to improve access at Bend Elementary.

For the final piece, RCAC staff conducted an educational curriculum for the students at Bend Elementary. The curriculum teaches school children about the importance and benefits of drinking water, which in turn encourages them to use the new stations. RCAC staff guide the children through activities, which include a branded “Wally the Water Droplet” mascot who is on the educational materials, such as stickers, water bottles and activity books. RCAC developed a targeted curriculum for different age groups from kindergarten through high school.