Fluoride Action Network

Fluoride debate rages on in Davis County

Source: Deseret News | Deseret News staff writers
Posted on June 5th, 2002
Location: United States, Utah

Davis County residents will revote this November on whether to fluoridate public water supplies.

Davis County elections clerk Pat Beckstead said Wednesday that backers of a local initiative had gathered the necessary number of signatures to return the issue to the ballot.

A revote shouldn’t affect fluoridation plans leading up to the November election. As of May 1 the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District was already supplying fluoridated water to the southern half of Davis County. The northern end is scheduled to have fluoridated water by Nov. 1. Most cities subsist on a combination of Weber Basin water and municipal well water.

Initiative supporters need 8,700 signatures to force the issue to a revote. Beckstead said the group currently has 7,600 certified signatures and turned in another 2,000 noncertified signatures Tuesday. While the county has yet to certify that 2,000, Beckstead said she was certain the signatures would push the total above the 8,700 mark.

“I’m sure they will have enough,” she said.

The news was welcome in Centerville, where city leaders have refused to meet the Davis County Health Department’s mandate to fluoridate their wells by May 1.

Tuesday night, City Council members thumbed their noses at the county, asking lawyers to find a way to avoid fluoridating the city’s well water.

“What are our options to get out of this?” Mayor Michael Deamer asked the council before deciding to send the issue to legal counsel for an opinion.

Ignoring public votes in favor of fluoridation in 2000 and 2001, the council tabled further action on fluoridation with the hope that it can get out of spending the $700,000 the city borrowed to install and treat the water.

“We just got backed into a corner because of how our citizens voted on this,” Deamer said.

But with a countywide revote looming in November, Centerville may have its escape route. If Davis County voters reject fluoridation, it would die regardless of how Centerville residents vote.

Still, as it stands, Centerville could receive notices of violation for not meeting the county’s May 1 fluoridation deadline. In that case, the city could face $1,000 fines from the county attorney for every day the water’s system is not fluoridated, said Delane McGarvey, associate director of Davis County Health Department.

That cost may be worth it, however, if the revote saves the city from installing the costly fluoridation equipment.

Deamer said the county might have to go to court to squeeze any fine money from the city.

“If they want to sue us or fine us they can go ahead and do it,” he said.

In November 2000, Davis County voters elected to fluoridate their water by a 52-48 margin. Since the vote, the opposition to fluoride has not quelled. Opponents say fluoride could be the cause of many diseases and believe the government shouldn’t force medication on the populace. Proponents say fluoridated water will help prevent tooth decay in children.