On Monday, May 20, at 10:00 am on the lawn in front of City Hall, three members of Watsonville Citizens for Safe Drinking Water and supporters held a press conference announcing their submission of a circulated petition to the Watsonville City Clerk with approximately double the number of signatures necessary to qualify the Watsonville Safe Drinking Water Initiative for the City-wide ballot.
The Watsonville Safe Drinking Water Initiative prohibits the addition of any substance to the public water supply for the purpose of treating people, rather than the water, that has not been specifically approved by the U.S. FDA for safety and effectiveness in accordance with health claims made, at all levels of consumption.
In addition, the proposed voter-created ordinance would prohibit adding any substance to the public drinking water for treating humans that contains contaminants that exceed already-established California and U.S. public health goals.
Citizens were forced to circulate the petition to place the proposed ordinance on the ballot after, on September 25, 2001, five members of the City Council refused to enact the ordinance proposed by Council Member Judy Nielsen and supported by now-Mayor, then Council Member, Betty Bobeda.
On May 14, 2002, in recognition of the impending delivery of enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, Judy Nielsen requested that the City Council halt any further action to fluoridate the public drinking water supply until the voters could give their answer to this proposed ordinance on the November ballot.
The 5 to 2 vote rejecting any delay in proceeding with fluoridation mirrors the vote previously taken by the Council to implement fluoridation, with Council Members Nielsen and Bobeda in favor of hearing from the voters and in support of the ordinance to protect the safety of public drinking water, and Council Members Lopez, De La Paz, Phares, Gomez, and Carter rejecting any delay and in opposition to the ordinance.
While the protective ordinance relates to any substance to be added to the drinking water for the purpose of treating humans, not the water, and does not specify fluoride, the recognition that no fluoride substances can meet those standards still leaves fluoridation supporters, and Council Members voting for fluoridation, scrambling for reasons to explain why the ordinance is not appropriate, and why without mentioning fluoride that the ordinance would halt fluoridation in Watsonville.
During an intensive public hearing on the issue of fluoridation last year, Council Members were informed that the July 2000 cover story of the Journal of the American Dental Association, and then the August 17, 2001 Centers for Disease Control Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report, clarified that there is no significant benefit from ingesting fluoride, and no correlation to a lower incidence of tooth decay with fluoride incorporated in the tooth enamel due to systemic exposures (swallowing) _ that any benefit is due to application of fluoride directly to the surface of the tooth, such as in brushing or rinsing.
In addition, Council Members were informed of the Congressional investigation on fluoride by the House Committee on Science to which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration responded, “Fluoride, when used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease in man or animal, is a drug that is subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation.”
Council Members were also informed that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency responded to the House Committee on Science that they have no toxicity data on the hydrofluosilicic acid, or its salt form, that are used in 90% of the fluoridation programs throughout the nation and intended for the City of Watsonville’s water. Nor, according to responses to the House Committee on Science, has any provider of fluoridation chemicals ever submitted toxicity data on the substances contained in their products as required by Standard 60, the prevailing self-regulation standards created by industry.
The American Water Works Association newsletter, OPFLOW, reports that the fluoridation chemicals present the greatest contribution of arsenic of any additive placed in drinking water.
The initiative is expected to be placed on the November, 2002 ballot for the citizens of Watsonville to decide; however there are consumers who receive drinking water from the City, but are not registered within City limits, thus not eligible to vote on the issue.