Utah residents went to Capitol Hill to find out what is, or is not, in their drinking water.
The Senate Committee met Feb. 17 to discuss the ongoing fluoridating of the water, an issue that has been debated for nine years. Senate Bill 0029 is the Safe Drinking Water Acts Amendment.
The amended bill states “a supplier of a corporate public water system may not add to or remove fluorine from the corporate public water system unless the majority of the votes cast by the shareholders of the corporate public water system authorize the supplier to add or remove the fluorine.”
It also states, “a supplier of a public water system that is not a corporate public water system that holds a vote … is not required to add to or remove fluorine from its public water system on the basis of the vote, … including a supplier of a public water system that provides water to the corporate public water system that holds the vote.”
Gary Edwards argued his case in front of the senators, explaining the Holladay Water Company was supposed to begin fluoridating its water in 2000 after 58.5 percent of the population voted they wanted fluoridated drinking water in Holladay. In 2003 the HWC requested a variance for fluoride the day before the fluoridation was set to occur, claiming they were a privately owned company and should not have to abide by the request.
“They are deemed a public business … if they are open to the public, serving the public,” Edwards countered.
In August 2005, the Board of Directors of the HWC declared themselves functionally separate, but the court has deemed them public, Edwards said.
“The public voted, and the public voted to fluoridate,” Edwards said.
Residents, like Pat Corey, showed up to explain why they did not want their water to be fluoridated. Corey said that Davis County had to lower their fluoride limit twice because there is so much of it already in food and she does not want this to be something that happens in other areas.
On the opposing side, Deborah Turner, a Holladay resident for 11 years, complained the HWC is spending too much money fighting fluoridation and neglecting current problems with its water, such as silt making its way into the water. She said the HWC just needs to do what it was voted it do so it can begin address current problems.
Former Sen. Behr has been a resident of Holladay for 45 years and loves the water provided from the “private Holladay Water Company.” She noted Salt Lake City has water in Holladay but it does not intermingle with the water the HWC provides from the Mt. Olympus Spring and four other wells. Because Holladay is a private water company, she does not think it should have to add fluoride to its water. She announced they will retaliate if they are not allowed to leave their water untouched.
“We can just turn the valves off,” Behr said. “If we’re pushed far enough, this is what we’re going to do.”
Behr said they won’t help firefighters and will keep water out of Big Cottonwood Creek.
“We do not want it,” Behr said of the fluoride. “We’ll go to every length we have to keep our water pure and beautiful.”
Sen. Gene Davis motioned to hold the bill, but was defeated in a vote that passed it with favorable recommendation. Although in favor of it, Sen. John Valentine found three problems with the bill.
First, the technical drafting was not found to be up to par. He requested it be reworded to clarify what will happen so everyone has the same understanding. Second, he requested more information about the water connections for residents and about shareholder relations in hopes of determining whether the HWC is public or private. He declared there should not be a small group governing a large group, implying the HWC shareholders were making decisions for everyone who is supplied water from the HWC. Lastly, he does not want to deal with any further litigation among those involved.
Copyright Brigham Young University 2 Mar 2009