Carrying a reusable water bottle is now going to be an easier habit for San Francisco residents and visitors.
With $805,000 in funding set aside in this year’s budget, San Francisco’s innovative drink tap stations are set to expand across the City, as every public school and more parks and open spaces are poised to be enrolled in the program.
The SFPUC started the program in 2010, installing lead-free water bottle refilling stations to provide everyone with free access to high-quality tap water while on the go. The tap stations enable residents to reuse their own container rather than purchase costly single-use bottled water. This encourages conserving natural resources and reduces waste from plastic water bottles.
In her budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year, Mayor London N. Breed set aside $640,000 for the Recreation and Parks Department and the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) to install drink tap stations. With the new funding allocation, every school in the SFUSD will have a drink tap station, in addition to more stations at parks and open spaces.
The $640,000 is allocated by Mayor Breed is part of the City’s Soda Tax, which was introduced to protect children from the harmful impacts of sugary beverages. Historically, the SFPUC has put in drink tap stations in communities with equity issues and lack of access to healthy drinking options.
The SFPUC works with city agencies, staff of elected officials, community-based organizations, health professionals, and community advocates to select station locations that meet the collective goal of increasing water access, especially to the City’s most vulnerable communities. Each drink tap station completes water quality testing prior to being put into use for public consumption.
This is the first year that Soda Tax funding has been issued directly to Rec and Park to install drink tap stations, and the second year it has been used to benefit the SFUSD.
In addition to installing the hydration stations in schools, SFUSD in collaboration with the Sugary Drinks Distributor Tax Advisory Committee (SDDTAC) is implementing lessons for students and families to encourage them to drink more water. Students will lead projects at their schools to be an integral part of improving the health and academic outcomes for themselves and their families, as well as their schools and local communities. Educators will also receive professional development to help them promote the importance of drinking more water.
Along with the $640,000 in Soda Tax revenue, $165,000 will be allocated directly to the SFPUC for installation of drink tap stations in various public areas. That funding total came as the result of Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer advocating for drink-tap stations during the Board of Supervisors budget addback process during the Summer of 2018.
To date, more than 155 stations have been installed across San Francisco, with another 18 currently pending installation.