Drinking Water



The NOPREN Drinking Water Working Group focuses on policies and economic issues regarding affordable and safe drinking water access in various settings. The working group is an effort of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network (NOPREN). Membership in the working group is voluntary and involves regular participation in working group meetings to share research findings and plan for new projects. Anyone working in the field of water access and intake is welcome to join the working group.



Our vision is to foster an understanding of the effectiveness of policies, programs and practices as levers to improve access to affordable and safe drinking water in childcare, schools, worksites and other community settings for all to have a fair chance at health.


Conduct research and evaluation to help identify develop and implement drinking-water-related policies, programs, and practices.

Key Activities and Findings

The NOPREN Drinking Water Working Group builds on existing research activities of working group members and explores opportunities for collaboration. Key priorities and activities are summarized below.

Conduct Collaborative Research: Serve as a hub for researchers and practitioners to partner on research projects related to water safety, access and intake.

    1. Explore impact of water programs and policies in early childhood, school, retail and community settings.
    2. Seek resources to support water-related research projects and evaluations.
    3. Identify effective tools and strategies for assessing water environments and promoting water intake.

Engage Researchers New to the Area of Water

    1. Generate innovative research questions with implications for water safety, cost, access and intake.
    2. Pursue novel research opportunities that relate to water across the lifespan and in various settings.
    3. Facilitate brainstorming and collaboration across disciplines through partnerships with other NOPREN working groups.

Communicate Water-Related Research via Publications and Products: Share research findings and best practices with key stakeholders on local, state and national levels.

    1. Raise awareness of up-to-date water research and resources through sharing of communications materials and educational opportunities.
    2. Build partnerships with organizations that focus on water, sugary drinks, children’s health and wellness, and more.
    3. Translate research findings into materials that can be easily disseminated to practitioners in priority settings.



Download the Drinking Water Work Group Overview document for more information

Recent Reports, Tools and Publications:

Park S, Onufrak S, Cradock A, Patel A, Hecht C, Merlo C, Blanck HM. Correlates of infrequent plain water intake among US high school students: National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2017. Am J Health Promt. 2020 Jun;34(5):549-554. doi: 10.1177/0890117120911885

Cradock AL, Everett Jones S, Merlo C. Examining differences in the implementation of school water-quality practices and water-access policies by school demographic characteristics. Prev Med Rep. 2019; 14:100823. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2019.100823

Cradock AL, Poole MK, Agnew K, Flax C, Plank K, Capdarest-Arest N, Patel AI. A systematic review of strategies to increase drinking water access and consumption among 0-to 5-year-olds. Obes Rev. 2019 Sep;20(9):1262-1286. doi: 10.1111/obr.12833

Park S, Onufrak S, Patel A, Sharkey J, Blanck HM. Perceptions of drinking water safety and their associations with plain water intake among US Hispanic adults. J Water Health. 2019 Aug; 17(4): 587-596. doi: 10.2166/wh.2019.015

Cradock AL, Hecht CA, Poole MK, Vollmer LY, Flax CN, Barrett JL. State approaches to testing school drinking water for lead in the United States. Boston, MA: Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; 2019. Available here.

Cradock AL, Poole MK, Vollmer LY, Barrett JL, Flax CN, Hecht CA. State Policies on Testing Drinking Water for Lead in U.S. Schools. Research Brief. Durham, NC: Healthy Eating Research; 2019. Available at: http://healthyeatingresearch.org.

Park S, Onufrak S, Wilking C, Cradock AL. Community-based policies and support for free drinking water access in outdoor areas and building standards in U.S. municipalities. Clin Nutr Res. Apr 2018; 7(2):91-101. doi: 10.7762/cnr.2018.7.2.91

October 2020 Webinar: AHA Update: Water Access in Schools (Stephanie Scarmo, PhD, Dave Oberembt and Erica Phung, American Heart Association)

September 2020 Webinar: Protecting Water Quality of Non-Public Water Wells in Kansas (Mary Winston Marrow, JD, Mitchell Hamline School of Law and Elizabeth Ablah, PhD, University of Kansas School of Medicine)

April 2020 Webinar: Sugar sweetened Beverage Consumption in Alaskan Communities With and Without Water Service (Emily Mosites, PhD, MPH, Lieutenant Commander USPHS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

February 2020 Webinar: Cost‐Effectiveness of Water Promotion Strategies in Schools for Preventing Childhood Obesity and Increasing Water Intake (Dr. Erica Kenney, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health). A summary of the paper can be accessed here.

August 2019 Webinar: Oral Health at the American Academy of Pediatrics (Hollis Russinof, Lauren Barone, AAP)

July 2019 Webinar: Association of Caloric Intake from Sugar-Sweetened Beverages with Water Intake Among US Children and Young Adults in the 2011-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (Asher Rosinger, Pennsylvania State University)

May 2019 Webinar: A Statewide Examination of Beverage Policy Implementation Among Child Care Programs in Georgia

February 2019 Webinar: An Environmental Defense Fund Pilot: Tackling Lead in Drinking Water at Child Care Facilities (Lindsay McCormick, Environmental Defense Fund) *Click the date to view a recording of the presentation and click the title to access the PPT slides

View the recording of the May 2016 CDC-hosted webinar: “Increasing Access to Drinking Water in Schools: Strategies for Success” and access the PPT slides.

The NOPREN Water Working Group works closely with the National Drinking Water Alliance.  Check the NDWA website for a bibliography of the research, resource listings and news updates.

Additional Resources

United States Environmental Protection Agency. 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water Toolkit. 2018; Available at https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/3ts-reducing-lead-drinking-water-toolkit.

United States Government Accountability Office. Lead Testing of School Drinking Water Would Benefit from Improved Federal Guidance. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Accountability Office; July 2018. Available at https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-18-382.

Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Get the Facts: Drinking Water and Intake. 2016; Available at https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/plain-water-the-healthier-choice.html.

Division of Population Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Healthy Schools Water Access. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/npao/wateraccess.htm.



Angie Cradock, ScD, MPE
Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Email: acradock@hsph.harvard.edu
Phone: 617-384-8933

Sohyun Park, PhD, MS
Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Email: spark3@cdc.gov