This paper examines free drinking water access in California public schools. Researchers conducted cross-sectional interviews with administrators from 240 California schools from May to November 2011 to examine the proportion of schools that met excellent water access criteria (i.e., location, density, type, maintenance, and appeal of water sources), school level characteristics associated with excellent water access, and barriers to improving drinking water access. They found that no schools met all the criteria for excellent drinking water access. When compared with elementary schools, middle and high schools were less likely to have at least one fountain for every 25 students. Compared with city schools, rural schools were more likely to offer a non-fountain source of free drinking water. The availability of safe and appealing drinking water was not associated with school-level characteristics, yet newer schools were more likely to better maintain water sources than older schools.  When school administrators were asked about barriers to improving drinking water access, they cited other pressing concerns (e.g., academic demands) and the cost of improving drink water infrastructure.