A Marshall County water system, at least for now, can stop fluoridating its water over concerns that the long-held practice isn’t healthy, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled Friday.
The city of Arab’s water system in August 2015 stopped fluoridating its water after reviewing studies that the practice was unhealthy. But a few months later the Arab City Council ordered the system to restart fluoridation.
A Marshall County judge sided with the city after hearing testimony from medical experts and issued a preliminary injunction in the case ordering the water system to re-start fluoridation. The water works appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court.
The water board argued that despite the city council’s 1972 resolution to start fluoridation and its 2015 resolution telling the waterworks to continue fluoridation, the water system still has the authority to make operational decisions.
The Alabama Supreme Court sided with the water works board in its Friday opinion. The court reversed the circuit judge’s order that had granted the city council an injunction requiring the water system to fluoridate the water.
“The board is correct. It is undisputed that the board has authority over the waterworks system,” according to the Alabama Supreme Court opinion.
In its opinion reversing the injunction, the Alabama Supreme Court stated Arab did not have a reasonable chance of success on the ultimate merits of its case.
Many water systems began putting fluoride in their water about 70 years ago after studies showed it helped prevent tooth decay in children and adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Not all water systems added fluoride and some have stopped in recent years over health concerns. The CDC maintains a My Water’s Fluoride website to let people learn about their community’s drinking water fluoridation levels.
Birmingham’s water works system fluoridates its water. To check if your system fluoridates its water go to the CDC’s website: My Water’s Flouride
On Sept. 19, 1972, the city of Arab adopted a resolution ordering its water works board to begin fluoridating the water.
“On Aug. 1, 2015, the (water) board, citing studies indicating negative health consequences resulting from fluoride, stopped fluoridating the water it supplies to the city,” according to the Supreme Court opinion. The city disagreed and on Nov. 2, 2015, the council, citing studies indicating negative health consequences if the water wasn’t fluoridated, passed a resolution ordering the water works board “to immediately restart the addition of fluoride into the water supply system of the municipality,” according to the opinion.
On Nov. 10, 2015, the board wrote a letter to the city stating that it did not intend to comply. On Feb. 17 the city filed a lawsuit against the water board and asked the circuit court to enter an injunction requiring the water system to fluoridate the water it supplies to the city.
On March 17, 2016, the circuit court granted the City’s request for a preliminary injunction after holding a hearing in which medical professionals, including the Director of the Alabama Department of Public Health testified.
The judge stated that “all medical professionals in attendance were qualified as experts in their fields and each offered the opinion that systemic fluoride is important for the public health, and that removal of fluoride from the water supply would cause immediate, irreversible, irreparable harm — especially to children who need systemic fluoride as their teeth develop, elderly, and poor citizens served by the (water board).”
The judge stated that the only evidence before him was that the water board “fluoridated the water for 43 years without any complaint or claim of hardship. And while the [board] has presented no evidence of hardship, the city has shown through the testimony presented that immediate and irreparable harm will indeed occur if fluoride is not reintroduced into the city’s water system.”
The water board appealed the injunction and the Alabama Supreme Court reversed the circuit judge’s decision.
See past articles:
See Dec 23, 2016, Alabama city can remove fluoride from drinking water, court rules
June 10, 2016, Council takes no action on water board request
May 17, 2016, Fluoride back in the water works system in Arab
April 1, 2016, Judge Riley denies AWW request to stay his fluoride order
March 22, 2016, Arab water board votes to appeal judge’s decision
March 11, 2016, Ruling on fluoride debate expected soon
March 1, 2016, Protestors back Arab Water Works on fluoride issue