SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Advocates of water fluoridation say obstacles in some Utah counties to put the issue on the November ballot are being made up by opponents.
However, officials in Weber, Utah and Davis counties say water districts overlap county lines, and that could make the proposed vote invalid under language of legislation that authorizes the vote.
“It’s just a problem with the way (the bill) was drafted,” said Brent Gardner, executive director of the Utah Association of Counties.
He said language at the end of the bill allows voters in individual water districts to opt out of fluoridation of drinking water, even if voters in the precinct as a whole approve it.
Gardner said because some water districts overlap two or more voting precincts and some even seem to overlap each other.
Election judges know a voter’s precinct but not water district at the time the resident votes, so he said it’s impossible to know which water districts approve fluoridation and which oppose it.
However, Davis County Board of Health chairwoman Beth Beck said the perceived difficulties are imagined, the result of fears and concerns of county commissioners and county clerks.
She said the bill allows water districts to opt out of fluoridation if they’re “functionally separate,” meaning districts that don’t overlap into other voting precincts.
Beck blamed county clerks who don’t “find a creative way” to separate votes of individuals in different water districts and on county commissioners who oppose countywide votes on fluouridation.
She said the way the fluoridation issue is being handled “is denying people the chance” to have good health.