By Bob Katzen
House Bill(S 251) creates a grant program to finance the costs of purchasing and installing water bottle filling station equipment in school buildings, playgrounds and athletic fields. The measure recommends the program be funded with at least $2 million but the money is still subject to legislative approval.
Provisions include requiring schools that apply for grants to test for lead and copper and install a filtered filling station when elevated levels of those chemicals are present; requiring that grants be prioritized for school districts serving low-income communities that often have less access to safe drinking water than wealthier districts with newer infrastructure; and encouraging the proliferation of bottle filling stations in public buildings.
“The habits that children make can stick with them their whole lives,” said sponsor Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton). “Something seemingly as innocuous as a soda or sweetened juice can cause dental and health issues over time, and the kids who drink bottled water are contributing to harmful plastic pollution. I filed this bill in order to ensure that children not only have access to safe drinking water in their schools, but that the water comes from a sustainable source. Water bottle filling stations are an inexpensive way to engage children in issues of healthy hydration and environmental consciousness while helping them create healthful habits that last a lifetime.”