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Access to Safe Drinking Water

Safe drinking water is critical for the health and well-being of children and staff in an ECE program. Children are especially vulnerable to chemical contaminants in drinking water because they consume more water for their body size than do adults.

Contaminants can get into drinking water from a variety of sources, activities, or problems including naturally occurring minerals, agricultural fertilizers and pesticides, manufacturing and industrial processes, sewer overflows, or septic systems. Drinking water can become contaminated with lead, copper, or other chemicals as it travels through pipes to the faucet [21].

ECE program operators have a need to know where the drinking water used in their facility comes from. Where the water comes from will dictate who is responsible for maintaining the quality and safety of the water. Water systems are generally classified as community public water systems; non-transient, non-community water systems; or private water systems.

Steps to ensure safe drinking water include the following:

  • Test water regularly if your water is not regulated by the federal or state government, such as water from a private well (check with your state or local health department for guidance on what to test for, how often to test, and how to treat your water if needed).
  • Assess the possibility of contamination from pipes or water infrastructure.


Chapter 4 has more detailed information on water systems and safe drinking water.

For infants, drinking water can be a large portion of their diets by volume when water is used to make infant formula.