CENTERVILLE — Residents who don’t want fluoridated water can fill up their buckets at a special well, but they’ll still be paying for fluoridation.
The City Council is raising water rates to cover costs of equipment and equipment installation to fluoridate the city’s water supply. The flat-fee rate hike represents a 10 percent increase over what a home with modest water use is already paying.
Centerville is attempting to accommodate those who oppose fluoride by installing a tap at the well located at about 200 South and 200 East. This tap will allow people who prefer not to have their drinking water fluoridated to draw their own water before it goes through the fluoridation process. They will have to furnish the water containers and collect the water on their own time and at their own expense.
The road to fluoridation has not been a smooth one for Centerville. Fluoridation was approved in November 2000 in a countywide vote, with Sunset, West Point, South Weber, Woods Cross and West Bountiful cities voting against the measure. In Centerville, fluoridation opponent Richard G. Brown spearheaded an effort to collect enough signatures to petition the City Council to hold a municipal election on the issue. With about a third of the city”s registered voters turning out, the city voted again to proceed with fluoridation.
As the fluoride mandate itself provides no funds for implementation, the city had to examine funding options, including a rate hike. The rate hike itself is two-pronged: $2.30 of the monthly increase will fund capital improvements like the purchase of the equipment necessary to fluoridate the city”s water supply, the enlarging of several of the city”s seven pump houses to accommodate the new equipment, and the development of an eighth well. The other $1 will go into a reserve fund.
Rate increases covering the means to fluoridate Davis County”s water supply will vary widely from city to city and depend to a great extent on how many wells serve a city and how much water the city pipes in from the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District.
Cities range in the amount of water they receive from the conservancy district from a low of 9 percent to a high of 100 percent. Centerville falls to the low end with 31 percent.
Mayor Michael Deamer said “water independency” — seeing Centerville develop the resources so it supplies all of its own water — is a goal he would like to see accomplished.
Councilwoman Nancy Smith was the lone dissenting party in the 4-1 vote March 19 to raise water rates.
She said the costs that the Davis County Board of Health quoted when the issue was first voted on “grossly misrepresented the actual costs of fluoridating our water supply.”
“The Board of Health represented the cost to the consumers as being in the range of 28 cents to a dollar per household per year,” Smith said. “There”s a big difference between pennies a year and the actual increase we”re asking our residents to bear of $3.20 per month.”
“I feel it”s not fair to place a burden on the people of Centerville to pay for a “want” before we even have a way as a city government of meeting all their needs,” she said. “And I do feel that any government needs to know where it has a right to step in and where it doesn”t. A government cannot be the custodian of our souls.”