A decision by the Olivehurst Public Utility District board to stop adding fluoride to its drinking water will not hurt the district’s ability to receive grants from the First 5 Yuba commission, according to its executive director.
“A lot of our projects aren’t sustainable, and that’s always been an issue,” said Cynthia Sodari, head of the Yuba County entity charged with using tobacco taxes to benefit early childhood health and development.
Four years ago, a $150,000 grant from First 5 Yuba to OPUD aimed to do so by adding fluoride to the water, which dentists say significantly reduces early childhood tooth decay.
Residents of Plumas Lake, citing the potential for adverse health effects from fluoride, began pushing the utility district a year ago to remove the chemical compound from the water. After months of discussion and previous votes to keep fluoridation, a 3-2 majority of the board of directors voted last week to stop fluoridation for similar reasons.
One board member who had voted to keep fluoridation, Ron Dougherty Jr., said he was concerned about the precedent the vote would set.
“Our (general manager) is going before the Yuba First 5 board to ask for funding to continue the OPUD aquatic program that essentially keeps the swimming pool open,” Dougherty wrote in an email last Friday. “I can’t think of any legitimate board (Yuba First 5) that would fund an organization (OPUD) that is not a good steward of $150K of public tax money.”
But Sodari said she didn’t see the issues as connected because First 5 often provides start-up money for programs that don’t last for a variety of reasons. That fluoridation will end in OPUD because of political pressure rather than a lack of money wouldn’t matter, she said.
Olivehurst’s community pool, which received First 5 funding to remain open for lessons and free swim time earlier this year, will be considered by the commission at its Thursday meeting.