A judge affirmed a ruling by the Arkansas Department of Health on Monday that states that while the Madison County Regional Water District supplies water to two customers – the Huntsville Water Department and the Madison County Water Facilities Board – the water supplier does fall under provisions of Act 97 of 2011, a law which requires certain water systems to fluoridate their water supplies.
Attorney Christopher Lawson, who represented the water district in Monday’s hearing, argued that certain verbiage in the law – particularly sections that define a water system as “a facility including without limitation a parent system, consecutive system or other system that holds, treats and supplies water directly or through a consecutive system or consecutive systems to 5,000 persons or more” – was unclear and should not apply to the water district, because it only supplies water to two wholesale customers. Lawson also argued that the law did not specifically define what “consecutive system or other system” entails in terms of the law’s scope.
The Arkansas State Board of Health and a subcommittee have ruled that the district was a water system defined by the statute.
“While I understand Mr. Lawson’s arguments, I cannot find that the board’s ruling was clearly wrong in their interpretation of ‘other system’ and ‘consecutive system,'” Fourth Judicial Circuit Judge John Threet said. “In reading that statute, as well as case law, the court cannot make a determination that it was wrong, therefore the court will deny the review and affirm the lower order.”
Attorneys for the state’s Department of Health will file an order in the Madison County Circuit Court based on Threet’s ruling. Once the order is filed, the district will have 30 days to enter an appeal. Lawson said after Monday’s hearing that he does expect the district to file such an appeal.
Read the full story in this week’s edition of The Madison County Record.
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