WOODS CROSS — In a first in the county, the City Council here has said no thanks to fluoridation, because its own water system is independent of outside water sources. And Davis County plans to challenge the city”s new ordinance.
In a 4-1 vote, the council members took the action Tuesday after a citizens” group presented them with a 503-signature petition last month. The petition requested the city enact an ordinance “opting” out of the countywide fluoridation referendum.
The referendum, to add one parts per million of fluoride to the county”s drinking water system, was approved by a slim margin in November.
The move by the Woods Cross council now forces the Davis County Health Department to either challenge the new ordinance immediately or wait until May when cities are required to carry out the fluoridation measure.
Davis County Health Director Lewis R. Garrett said he does not want it to appear that the two entities are adversaries, but the health department will challenge the city ordinance in court. He just doesn”t know if it will be now or closer to May.
“The health department does not believe a city can declare itself exempt from a countywide order,” Garrett said.
But Woods Cross Councilman Todd Weiler, an attorney, believes the city has a strong case where the majority of its residents opposed the measure, and more important, because the city receives only 9 percent of its water supply from an outside provider, making it functionally separate.
Weiler said the state statute does not define what the term “functionally separate” means.”The $64,000 question is what does “functionally separate” mean. Only a court is going to decide that,” Weiler said.
Weiler said the city derives 91 percent of its water from city wells. Although that does not make it completely separate as county health officials maintain it must be, it is still functionally separate of outside water systems.
The only reason the city draws 9 percent of its water supply from Weber Basin Water Conservancy District, Weiler said, is that the city is contracted to do so on a use-or-lose basis. “We don”t have to take that water,” Weiler said.
Besides, Weiler is convinced the council had little elbow room in acting on the citizens” request.
The council could have either enacted the ordinance as it was requested to do by residents or have it go to a public vote, which would have been delaying the inevitable where the majority of its residents had already voted against the measure.
The only council member who apparently felt differently was Lise Tuttle, who opposed enacting the ordinance. Tuttle could not be reached for comment.
Weiler said the one thing the council accomplished is it removed the issue from the public arena, eliminating another three months of a “circus”-type atmosphere.
Weiler said he voted in favor of fluoridation, but this is not an issue of whether fluoridation is good or bad. “We”re trying to honor the vote of our citizens,” he said.
Garrett said Woods Cross was presented with a very difficult situation with the petition that would have forced another election.
But there is nothing in the state code, Garrett said, giving cities the authority to opt out of a countywide vote.
Garrett said if Woods Cross City turned off the water it receives from Weber Basin it could be considered functionally separate. “But on the day of the election, and this day, they are not,” he said.
“I think ultimately this decision is going to end up before a judge,” Garrett said. “It is my opinion a judge will decide with the county health department.
“I don”t believe the “functionally separate” issue is that complicated or difficult. They are not separate. They have 9 percent of its water coming from an outside source,” Garrett said.