Grant funding applications sought for projects to improve public school water quality and access

By on December 5, 2017

Pursuant to part 27 of Senate Bill 828, the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) has issued a call for applications for grant funding to fund projects that will improve drinking water quality and access on public school campuses in disadvantaged communities. These projects can include new or replacement water bottle filling stations or drinking water fountains, new point-of-entry or point-of-use water treatment devices, and the replacement and/or repair of drinking water and plumbing fixtures to address lead contamination. The funding can also be used for the purchase of bottled or hauled water as an interim solution while a permanent fix to a drinking water issue is being implemented.

Projects deemed ineligible for the Drinking Water for Schools Program include: connecting to a public water system or other new water source; drilling new wells or repairing or rehabilitating existing wells; and, demonstration or pilot programs.

Previously the law for school districts was to, “provide access to free, fresh drinking water during meal times in school food service areas unless the governing board of a school district adopts a resolution stating that it is unable to comply with this requirement and demonstrates the reasons why it is unable to comply due to fiscal constraints or health and safety concerns.” SB 828 was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on June 27, 2016 with the intent to provide accessible free, fresh drinking water filling stations and/or drinking fountains.

The Drinking Water for Schools Grant Program is seeking to first fund projects for projects that have a high effectiveness in increasing access to safe drinking water at schools for K-12 schools as well as preschool and day care facilities on public school property in small, disadvantaged communities. Small, disadvantaged communities are defined as a municipality, school district, or school service area with a population of 20,000 or less with an annual median household income that is less than 80 percent of the statewide median household income.

Grant funding from the State Water Board pertaining to SB 828 for approved school projects is capped at $100,000 per school. Applicants with multiple school sites are capped at $1 million. The minimum grant amount is $25,000 for granted-endorsed projects.

Larger disadvantaged communities will be eligible to apply after June 2018. Funds will be awarded for projects on a continuous basis until it runs out or until June 30, 2019, whichever comes first. The total amount available through the State Water Resources Control Board for the Drinking Water for Schools Grant Program is $9.5 million.