Clean Water Sonoma-Marin digs in its heels for what looks to be a protracted legal battle with the Marin Municipal Water District over fluoridation.
Two weeks after being told to take their fight somewhere else, local anti-fluoridation activists insist they have no intention of backing down from their fight with a local water district.
The leader of a local organized group has vowed to take her fight to the courts in what looks to be a protracted legal battle.
Dawna Gallagher-Stroeh, who heads Clean Water Sonoma-Marin, told Patch she plans to file a civil grand jury complaint against the Marin Municipal Water District.
“That’s going to happen,” she said. “That’s the next step.”
The MMWD board told vocal members of Gallagher-Stroeh’s group who packed a Nov. 6 meeting demanding a stop to fluoridation that the controversial water-treatment policy isn’t for their agency to decide.
They say the activists will need the state legislature to give them the freedom to stop treating water with fluoride.
“For these people to get where they want to go with this they have to get a change in state law,” MMWD Chair Larry Russell told Patch.
Gallagher-Stroeh disputes the district’s assertion. She say’s a clause exists allowing the district to override state law in circumstances in which the public safety is imperiled.
That clause, she said, will be the basis for the complaint.
Her group believes the health risks associated with water fluoridation rises to that level. Fluoridation opponents have compared the practice to dumping hazardous wastes in the water supply.
Nearly all major public health agencies in the United States support fluoridation, which they say helps reduce tooth decay and poses no health risks.
The Center for Disease Control describes the fluoridation as “one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.”
Russell said he isn’t qualified to evaluate the science behind arguments for or against fluoridation, but he said Gallagher-Stroeh’s group’s views are inconsistent with mainstream science.
“I’m not saying they’re right or they’re wrong. I’m agonistic, but it’s not even close to mainstream science,” he said.
Regardless, he said it’s not a call he has the authority to make.
“I’m no expert on this, I rely on the technical people on this, but you can’t come in and tell me ‘do the right thing, just go break the law.’
“I took senior civics in high school. That’s not my responsibility. That’s not my duty.”
The battle between local activists and the district is playing out around the nation and beyond, with the anti-fluoridation movement gaining momentum in recent years.
Gallagher-Stroeh insists that her group’s views represent mainstream science that’s supported by more than 1,700 peer-reviewed studies.
“We have so much more science than them it’s laughable,” she said.