Access to Free Drinking Water in SF Neighborhoods Driven by New Partnership

Dave Lieberman fills his water bottle at a water bottle filling station in Millberry Union at UCSF's Parnassus campus
Dave Lieberman, a field mechanic at Scoot Networks, fills his water bottle at a water bottle refilling station in Millberry Union on UCSF’s Parnassus campus. Photo by Susan Merrell
By Kate Rauch on January 11, 2017

For thirsty San Franciscans in many neighborhoods, the easiest way to quench their thirst while out and about is to pop into a store or a restaurant for a soda.

But soon, a new partnership will bring a healthier option to neighborhoods across the city — stations to disperse free drinking water.

Over the next year, 19 new public water stations will be installed across San Francisco, thanks to a collaboration involving the City and County of San Francisco, community groups, and UC San Francisco.

The new water stations, designed for easily filling bottles or cups, will be in citywide, with nearly half in lower-income neighborhoods that have the city’s highest rates of obesity and diabetes. All will meet or exceed water quality safety standards. UCSF also is assessing the water stations’ impact on dietary behavior.

“If you can convince kids or even families to adopt water as their beverage instead of a sugary drink, this is a shift in the right direction,” said Anisha Patel, MD, a UCSF pediatrician who is leading the water station study. “Making sure water is safe, making sure it’s readily available in ways people want to drink it. All of these pieces fit together in terms of improving health outcomes.”

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