A hearing for a lawsuit in which the Madison County Regional Water District is challenging state law that would require the water district to fluoridate its water will be held at the Madison County Courthouse Monday morning.
The district filed suit against the Arkansas Department of Health and a number of other officials within the department in March 2016 after refusing to comply with Act 197 of 2011, which requires water systems to fluoridate their water supply should funding be made available for the project. According to the Arkansas Department of Health’s website, the Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation pledged up to $20 million over a five-year period to fund the installation of fluoridation equipment in public water systems.
The law defines a water system as “a facility including without limitation a parent system, consecutive system or other system that holds, treats and supplies water directly or through a consecutive system or consecutive systems to 5,000 persons or more,” and states that “the company, corporation, municipality, county, government agency or other entity that owns or controls a water system shall control the quality of fluoride in the water so as to maintain a fluoride content established by the Department of Health.”
According to courts filed in the Madison County Circuit Court, the water district is arguing that it doesn’t fall under the scope of the law because, rather than supplying water directly to users, it supplies to two local utilities – the Huntsville Water Department and the Madison County Water Facilities Board, therefore arguing that it is not a “water system” as defined by the act.
“The [Madison County Water District] does not supply water to any retail water customer in Arkansas,” states the district’s petition for judicial review, filed on March 7 of last year. “Once the water district has delivered potable water to the master meter for each of its two wholesale customers, the water district has no control over the treatment, supply or delivery of the water to residential customers of the City or the Water Facilities Board.”
Through documents filed by their attorneys on March 10, 2017, the Arkansas Department of Health argued that the law does apply to the water district.
“Act 197 does not mention wholesale or retail customers in its language,” the document states. “The law encompasses a ‘water system,’ including without limitation a parent system, consecutive system or other system that holds, treats and supplies water directly or through a consecutive system or consecutive systems to 5,000 persons or more.
“The law clearly covers any water system (whether that system can be described as a wholesale or retail producer) because the law states ‘including without limitation.’ The obvious intent of the Arkansas Legislature was to cover all variants of entities that provide water to 5,000 or more end-user customers. The plain meaning of the law is to require fluoridation for those communities of 5,000 or more persons.”
The hearing will is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Monday, April 17, at the Madison County Courthouse.
• Original article online at http://www.mcrecordonline.com/news/article_033fff3a-1f80-11e7-b3f8-4bc73b06cff7.html