Crescent City voters will once again have their chance to weigh in on whether they want fluoride in their municipal water supply.
An initiative spearheaded by local residents Katherine Kelly and Connie Morrison — who lives in the county — to remove fluoride from the city’s water barely received enough support to be placed on the Nov. 2, 2010, ballot.
According to results from the Del Norte County Clerk/Recorder’s Office, the fluoride initiative needed 10 percent of registered city voters — which equals 170 people — to sign a petition in order to qualify for the next municipal election. On April 23, the Clerk/Recorder’s Office verified that the petitioners collected 174 valid signatures.
The Crescent City Council certified these results on Monday, and opted not to develop a report studying the various impacts of the initiative similar to the one that was prepared after Councilwoman Donna Westfall’s sewer rate rollback effort qualified for an election. Council members also decided not to simply adopt the defluoridation initiative without a vote, which was an option under the California Elections Code.
“They just made a decision to go ahead and place it on the ballot,” Crescent City Manager Rod Butler said Tuesday. “Basically, the council’s position is that if enough voters want to see it on the ballot then they were fine with that.”
Crescent City has fluoridated its water for nearly 40 years, and it was a decision that was approved by a majority vote of residents at that time. Fluoridation started becoming common practice in the United States in the 1940s as a means to reduce tooth decay. Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls fluoridation “one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.” Some people, however, believe it is a form of mass medication and carries significant negative health impacts.
Some of the criticism of fluoride in public water supplies is related to over-consumption, and opponents of the practice say high exposure to the mineral can cause anything from tooth discoloration to kidney and liver damage in children to lower IQ.
Crescent City spends about $17,000 a year to purchase fluoride for its water system, and the municipality estimates maintenance and equipment costs to be less than $5,000 a year.