Fluoride Action Network

Davis Board of Health should reverse decision to mandate fluoridation before Revote

Source: Standard Examiner | August 18th, 2002
Location: United States, Utah

The Davis County Board of Health is playing hardball with cities that haven’t fluoridated their water.Centerville and cities to its south were to have fluoridated their drinking water by May.

Centerville and Bountiful haven’t. They’ve joined South Weber in asking for a moratorium on implementation until after a probable re-vote on the fluoridation issue Nov. 5. Farmington and cities north have until Nov. 1 to fluoridate their water, due to engineering complications.

It’s pretty obvious what the health board is doing: They’re reminding the citizens of Davis County that a majority of voters in November 2000 approved fluoridation, that lots of money has already been spent building facilities and buying equipment, and that regardless of opponents’ ability to place the matter before voters once again, fluoridation is going forward. Period.

The board claims its only motivation is the “affirmative statutory obligation on the health department to require community water systems in Davis County to fluoridate.”

If you’re in the business of splitting hairs, that’s a fine reason to decline the pleas of Centerville, Bountiful and South Weber. But if your job is to make sure the cities don’t spend a pile of taxpayer money — $700,000 in Centerville’s case — on equipment that may be gathering dust if fluoridation is defeated in the Nov. 5 re-vote, the denial of the cities’ request appears fiscally irresponsible.

The board is correct in its claims that some cities have been too slow to act on the 2000 vote and get their fluoridation systems up and running. True, too, is the fact that cities and the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District had to wait a period of time for the health department to issue its rules regarding the process.

But it must be noted that the health board has previously granted deadline extentions to Farmington and Davis cities north. There is a precedent, then, for waiting a little longer due to extenuating circumstances. That being the case, how much sense does it make to set a Nov. 1 deadline for fluoridation — with its attendant costs, which are substantial — when the whole matter may, unfortunately, be rendered moot on Nov. 5?

The answer, reasonable people would conclude, is that it makes no sense whatsoever. And we’re betting if the cities took this issue before a judge, the court would side with the municipalities.

The newspaper’s editorial board has long supported fluoridation. But we do not support power plays when they place so much taxpayer money at risk. The Davis Board of Health should rethink its decision and extend a fluoridation moratorium to cities which aren’t yet up and running until after the Nov. 5 election.