San Diego, CA–As the San Diego Unified School District’s clean water partnership continues to expand, the Rob Machado Foundation Tuesday announced a fundraising effort to acquire a reusable water bottle for each student in the district.
The San Diego Loyal Soccer Club surprised Chavez Elementary School students with refillable water bottles as part of the first donation for the Rob Machado Foundation’s efforts.
“We’re thrilled to partner with the Rob Machado Foundation to provide 500 reusable water bottles to students at Cesar Chavez Elementary School,” SD Loyal President Ricardo Campos said. “Staying hydrated is key to a healthy and active lifestyle — especially when it comes to playing soccer — and it’s even better when you can help the environment while doing so.”
Chavez students filled their water bottles from new filtered hydration stations that have been installed on campus. All elementary schools are scheduled to receive filtered hydration stations by the end of 2023, and all remaining schools by the end of 2024, meeting the district’s original schedule despite the interruptions caused by COVID-19.
In the district, 24 schools have transitioned to fully filtered drinking water through hydration stations, including Chavez Elementary. In addition to the hydration stations, filtered drinking water is also provided in the health office and in the teachers’ lounge at Chavez and throughout San Diego Unified.
Temporary filtered bottle fillers have been provided at all schools, ensuring access to lead-free water to all district students while construction continues on the transition to only filtered hydration stations.
San Diego Unified’s clean drinking water plan was built in close collaboration with CALPIRG, a statewide advocacy organization that launched its “Get the Lead Out” campaign.
“As we can see from the leadership displayed by San Diego Unified, it is possible to get the lead out and protect children from this preventable toxic exposure,” said Jenn Engstrom, Statewide Director. “We urge school districts across California and the US to follow San Diego’s example and protect children from this toxic threat.”
Following a pilot effort at Clay Elementary School in Rolando Village, the 2020 board-approved plan set a strict public health goal of lead content below one part per billion, one of the strongest action levels nationwide. The district set out to replace approximately 10,000 aging bubblers with about 2,000 strategically placed, filtered water bottle filling stations, or hydration stations.
“We are hunting lead down to the parts per billion,” said Dr. Sharon Whitehurst-Payne. “To get a sense of that, one part per billion is the equivalent of a drop of water in an Olympic size swimming pool.”