Water use by public school districts has become a focus of public health concerns following a report that found that water use at some schools increased in the last decade.
The findings are likely to fuel a debate over water usage in public schools.
The report, commissioned by the Massachusetts Association of School Boards, looked at how schools used water and the impact of water pollution on students.
It found that the per pupil water use rate was rising for every additional 100 students enrolled in schools in the previous school year.
The report also found that as of 2014, schools in Massachusetts were using more than 10 million gallons of water per day.
The rate increased from 2009 to 2014, when the per-student rate peaked at 16.5 million gallons.
The authors said that in the past decade, water use per student increased by an average of 13.4 percent in Massachusetts schools.
According to the report, this trend accelerated in the two years after the recession, when average per-pupil water use increased from 9.4 million gallons per student in 2007 to 11.9 million gallons in 2014.
The per-school water use increase was greatest in the urban school districts, with the rate increasing from 5.3 million gallons to 5.6 million gallons by the end of the decade.
While the report acknowledged that there was some uncertainty around the actual impact of the recession on water use, it noted that this could be partly offset by the continued growth in the number of students attending school and the growing use of devices like tablets and laptops.
“We can use this data to look at a more realistic, longer-term water situation,” said study co-author Dr. Daniel Wieck, a water health scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“We need to do more to address this, and we have the technology and incentives to do so.
But there is also a need to understand how much water is actually being used and to take some measures to minimize water consumption.”
The report was commissioned by Massachusetts’ Association of Public School Boards (MAPSB), which oversees the districts of the state.MAPSBs are the state’s primary school boards and oversee the education of about 1 million students in public and private schools.
The association is responsible for planning the budgets of these districts, which make up about a third of the schools in state government.
The association has proposed a statewide plan to curb water use that will cover about one-fifth of the total state budget.
A study released earlier this year by the American Water Education Association (AWEA), which represents many school districts and states, called for a nationwide strategy to address water use and said that a national water strategy should be developed.
The AWEA released a report earlier this month that found states had more than twice as many water crises per capita as states in other countries, and that water was a major driver of climate change.
The new report by Wiecker and his colleagues, which was based on data collected by the state, found that, in 2014, about 6.1 million gallons (15.6 trillion gallons) of water were consumed per student.
Water use increased by 2.3 percent between 2009 and 2014, but the average per pupil usage rate decreased from 9 to 9.3 gallons per day, and the number per student using devices decreased from 11 to 10.3.
According to the researchers, the increases in water use were most apparent in urban districts.
The average per student water use for urban schools rose from 6.3 to 6.8 million gallons between 2009 to 2009 and the same period from 2014 to 2014.
Water usage decreased by about 1.2 percent in suburban schools, but increased by about 5.8 percent in rural schools.