State public health officials have stepped up the pressure on the city to fluoridate the public water supply, fining Watsonville $200 a day for failing to commit to the project.
The fine, suspended until Sept. 30, was included in a citation issued by the state Department of Public Health on Wednesday for failing to meet a deadline to commit to fluoridation by Sunday.
The deadline was set in a citation issued by state public health officials Aug. 19.
City Manager Carlos Palacios’ assertion in an Aug. 26 letter to state officials that the City Council would consider “whether to enter into a funding agreement for fluoridation does not equate to an assurance that it will ensure that fluoridation treatment facilities are installed and operated,” Wednesday’s citation says.
State officials now are requiring a written commitment to fluoridate from the City Council by Sept. 29.
The council is scheduled to consider on Sept. 28 a grant contract with the California Dental Association Foundation that would provide funding for the project.
A council committee on Monday recommended the city accept the $1.6 million grant.
Watsonville has been under a state order to fluoridate since 2003, when the dental foundation first offered a grant. But city voters had passed a ban on fluoridation in 2002 so Watsonville fought the state order in court, but lost.
State law requires cities with a population of 10,000 or more to fluoridate if an outside entity is willing to cover costs.