FARMINGTON — The second round in the fight over Davis County water fluoridation culminates Nov. 2, as voters determine whether to leave fluoride in or take it out of the county’s drinking water systems.
The re-vote on the hotly contested measure was forced by anti-fluoride groups through a signature petition presented to the Davis County Commission after cost estimates of adding fluoride to the water in different Davis cities far exceeded the cost projections initially pitched by county Health Board officials.
In November of 2000, voters by a 52 to 48 percent margin approved adding one part per million of fluoride to the county’s drinking water in an effort to fight tooth decay.
Since then, however, the estimated cost to implement the measure has more than tripled the original $1.38 per person per year shared during the 2000 campaign to $4.34 per person per year.
County Health Department officials have since acknowledged the cost disparity through their own study completed in July. But they contend adding fluoride to the water is the most cost-effective way to prevent tooth decay in children who do not see a dentist regularly.
“I will be very surprised if the citizens of Davis County vote to scrap the investment that has been made before receiving all the benefits of water fluoridation. So I think it is going to prevail by a larger margin,” said county Health Director Lewis R. Garrett.
Aside from arguments of personal choice, opponents contend shutting the operation down will save money.
“Yes they spent the money. But if they stop it, they can save almost half-a-million dollars a year, or half the investment,” said Lorna Rosenstein, spokeswoman for Waterwatch of Utah, an anti-fluoridation group.
“Do I think it is a done deal? No. I think people are angry at having this literally poured down their throats,’ she said.
Rosenstein said all she wants is for people to decide for themselves. She said even those who favor fluoridation don’t like the idea of forcing their neighbor to drink it.
The only Davis city not required to fluoridate its drinking water is Woods Cross, which through a court action proved it is on a functionally separate water system and opted not to add fluoride because the city’s residents rejected the measure.
West Bountiful, Sunset, South Weber and West Point also rejected the measure in 2000. But those cities share a drinking water system with cities that approved it and therefore were mandated to fluoridate.