One of the best aspects of the Davis City Council rejecting fluoridation of its drinking water is that Woodland most likely won’t be faced with the same request.
Acting Tuesday, the Davis council voted 4-1 against the plan to add the cavity-fighting mineral to its water supply. City leaders feared anger over the additive could derail Davis’ larger plans to draw water from the Sacramento River as part of Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency, the joint powers authority overseeing the Surface Water Project.
Woodland has been spearheading the project while Davis had been divided until last March, when voters there passed Measure I, authorizing city government to move ahead on the project as a means of supplementing — if not eventually replacing — its primary underground water sources by 2016.
Adding fluoride to Davis water was presented as an afterthought that if approved would have increased the cost to residents. Opponents of the plan said voters learned only after the election that fluoride could be added and was being considered by the city.
But adding fluoride at the water project’s planned treatment plant would have cost the Davis as much as $301,000 before yearly operating costs, according to preliminary city estimates. Additionally, Davis officials estimated costs anywhere from $837,000 to more than $2 million to add fluoride to the city’s six deep wells. Operation and maintenance costs were expected to add nearly $181,000 more to the costs.
In all, fluoridation costs would have added about $2 per month to residential customers’ water bills, according to a city staff report.
So, the debate over fluoridation in Davis boiled down to two basic complaints: Spending more money not initially agreed to on the water project, and adding a chemical to water supplies. That essentially united opposition between those who didn’t want the water project to begin with and didn’t want to pay more money with those who were against putting fluoride into public water systems no matter what.
That was an interesting collaboration which the Davis council had no hope of winning over.
For Woodland and the Water Agency itself, however, the decision by Davis councilmembers means less of a chance for the fluoride debate to creep north. Woodland has traditionally opposed fluoridation of its water supplies. And the Water Agency certainly doesn’t want to add any additional cost to the multi-million dollar project.
Woodlanders are also notoriously much tighter with their dollars — unless they can see a specific cost benefit, which includes stable water sources.
So, for now it appears that fluoridation in Davis and Woodland is a dead issue, and from a cost perspective that’s a good thing.