Dawson believes state money unduly influenced local interests
An eight-year member of the Snowmass Water & Sanitation District board has resigned because of the Oct. 21 decision to return fluoride to the system that serves 3,100 users.
“I am sad to say that as much as I was connected to and fondly affiliated with the Snowmass District Water Board, I must disassociate myself in protest and in my discomfort,” wrote ex-vice president Dave Dawson Monday in a letter to his colleagues and district manager Kit Hamby.
Dawson said the reversed stance on fluoride removal goes against the district’s and his personal mission of providing “the cleanest water possible.”
“Maybe we should consider the mantra of ‘the poisoning of mind, body, spirit,’” Dawson wrote.
The board’s 3-2 decision last week is in keeping with 64 percent of the district’s residents and property owners who recently voted in a non-binding election to return fluoride to the supply, some of Dawson’s colleagues have maintained.
Fluoride was removed on July 18 following months of debate about the additive and whether or not it’s best left out of the public water supply.
An April decision by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lowering the recommended fluoride level to 0.7 parts per million bolstered critics’ argument that at certain levels, the additive is unsafe.
In Dawson’s resignation letter, he was critical of what he called “an obscene amount of money … which originated from outside the community” spent by the Colorado Dental Association in support of pro-fluoride ads.
Snowmass Village dentist Karina Redko said the CDA contributed $4,000, which she roughly matched.
“I view (the CDA) donation as a symbol of the professional support from a majority of dentists in the state of Colorado. Water fluoridation is an important public health initiative and I felt that the hasty July vote to end water fluoridation put our community at an increased health risk,” Redko said.
She added that in light of “several large projects” the board is addressing, it’s unfortunate that a board member didn’t serve out his full term.
Joe Farrell, president of the water board, said he was “saddened” to receive Dawson’s letter.
“The fluoride debate and decision was a special project of Dave’s and I am sorry that this one issue caused him to step down as a valued colleague of the board. Dave brought much more to our table than his knowledge of and passion for fluoride,” Farrell said.
The district is looking at developing a new wastewater treatment plant near the site of the existing facility by the Snowmass Club. Initial projections to build the plant needed to comply with heightened state standards are in the $17-20 million range.
The board met last week and heard 90 minutes of public testimony that was evenly split on fluoride. The vote was called following the comments.
Political pressure weighed into Michael Shore’s decision to change his vote from July, Shore said, but he also agreed the district’s users had spoken overwhelmingly through the survey. Farrell and Tim Belinski supported fluoride’s return with Willard Humphrey continuing to oppose fluoride’s inclusion.
The handful of millennials represented at last week’s public meeting unilaterally supported fluoride’s removal.
Dawson appealed to this generation in his resignation letter: “One good outcome of this action has been the discovery that many of our younger generation care enough to embrace these ideals, and speak out in their favor.”