UPDATE, July 12, 2013: Well, free, fresh drinking water in schools may be have become the law three years ago, but you can lead a law to water but you can't .... make schools comply. That seems to be the story by Jane Meredith Adams in today's EdSource:
Schools are required to provide free drinking water where lunch is served under a 2010 state law [see history from California's Children below], Senate Bill 1413, as well as the 2010 federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. But the state law does not include enforcement mechanisms to make sure campuses comply, and schools can request waivers to opt out of the requirement. It’s unclear how many schools have opted out, because the waivers are submitted at the district level and are not compiled into state statistics...
Schools in Eureka, Del Norte and Mendocino counties have taken a marketing approach, working to entice students by providing spiffy water stations that attach to the wall and dispense jets of cold water into reusable water bottles. “The latest and greatest thing that everybody wants is a hydration station,” said Tarney Sheldon, a project manager for North Coast Opportunities, a Ukiah-based nonprofit organization.
The sleek hydration stations, or at least clean water fountains, when coupled with basic information about the health and environmental benefits of drinking water, encourage students to drink more water, said Jennifer McClendon, a project director for the Network for a Healthy California, a division of the state Department of Public Health...In a June survey of 1,500 students in Humboldt, Mendocino, Sonoma and Del Norte counties – a large-scale follow-up to the 2009 student survey – McClendon found that students drank more tap water, and felt more positively about tap water, in schools that had improved the way water was delivered, compared to students at schools that had made no improvements to their water delivery systems. Complete survey data have not yet been released.
July 7, 2011: ...CA Senate bill 1413 requires all public schools to provide free, fresh drinking water to all students at mealtimes. As Waterworld reminds us:
A 2009 survey by the California Department of Public Health revealed that about 40 percent of the 200 responding school districts said they did not provide access to free drinking water during school meals. Even in schools where safe drinking water is available, the survey found that students don't drink water because the water in fountains or dispensers isn't cold, schools don't have enough water fountains and the fountains are poorly maintained.
School districts that cannot comply for fiscal or health and safety reasons may seek exemption by passing a resolution to that effect.
With California as a model, the federal government established a requirement in The Healthy, Hunger-Free Act of 2010 to make water available to children in the National School Lunch Program. The USDA is urging schools to implement the requirement no later than the beginning of School Year 2011-12
Well, as along as we're talking about clean water -- you've probably read the highlights from the National Resources Defense Council's report on the nation's "dirtiest beaches." California, unsurprisingly, has quite a few on the list. To cut to the chase and check out the local spot before sending the kids off with their volleyballs, here's the total list, in list form, direct from the report.