school child filling up water bottleWhere: Oroville, California

Problem: Oroville City Elementary School District (OCESD) had very limited access to drinking water on its campuses. Drinking stations were in disrepair and students didn’t use them.

Solution: RCAC helped the district secure a $255,362 grant under California’s Drinking Water for Schools (DWFS) program to install and retrofit drinking fountains and bottle filling stations on seven campuses.

Oroville is Butte County’s seat and has a modest elementary school district with eight schools.  Following the 2018 Camp Fire that affected much of Butte County, the population of Oroville increased as many people who lost their homes relocated. Schools in Oroville also saw an increase in students.

Many schools in the district had drinking fountains that were described as old and rusty, or not Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant. Some high traffic areas lacked local fountains entirely. Summers in Oroville can have temperatures well into the hundreds.

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 drinking water access, or even treat unsafe drinking water in some cases. The state funds Agua4All to conduct outreach to eligible school districts and aid them during the rigorous application process. RCAC worked with OCESD to complete site assessments, compile budgets and schedules so that the lengthy application for DWFS grant funding was completed properly.

After OCESD’s application to upgrade and install new water stations was approved, RCAC continued to work with the district as technical advisors to manage its grant. Rural development specialists helped the district to source vendors, contract bids and install water stations. RCAC also coordinated the reimbursement process to ensure the grant complied with state procedures. At the close of the project, RCAC will have helped implement 57 water fountains/bottle filling stations in the district.