Fluoridated water may not flow to thousands of taps on Salt Lake County’s east side this fall — unlike the rest of the valley.
Holladay Water Co. does not plan to include the additive to its supplies despite a countywide vote in 2000 approving fluoridation of all public drinking water.
The company serves about 15,000 residents, but a recent company poll shows more than 70 percent of customers do not want fluoride in their water.
“We wanted to do what our customers wanted us to do,” Holladay Water Manager Marlin Sundberg said Monday. “We don’t believe we are covered by the  vote. If the county takes us to court, then the judge can decide who’s right.”
That could happen.
The Salt Lake Valley Health Department is charged with enforcing the voter-approved mandate and may have to sue to force the company to comply, according to Royal DeLegge, the department’s director of environmental health.
“They are covered by the regulation,” DeLegge said.
The health department’s target date for adding fluoride is Oct. 1, and DeLegge says as far as he knows all the valley’s water companies plan to do so. He has yet to hear from Holladay Water officials, but noted that the provider qualifies as a public water system because it serves more than 25 people.
Deputy District Attorney Craig Anderson, who advises the health department, says the health board will have several options if the company does not comply, including serving a notice of violation, proceeding with a lawsuit or pursuing criminal charges.
State law provides for a class B misdemeanor for violations of health regulations.
Unlike a similar fluoride vote in Davis County, where communities with functionally separate systems were allowed to opt out of fluoridation, Salt Lake County’s vote did not include any such provision, according to Anderson.
Sundberg says his company — which was founded in 1895 and receives no government subsidies — is relying on its customer poll. “They really don’t want it,” he said.
Sundberg says he takes no personal stand on fluoride, but notes that there has been “science thrown out on both sides” of the issue.
Holladay Mayor Dennis Larkin says he would be happy if the water company kept out fluoride. “I don’t want a drop of it in our city,” he said.
That goes for dentist Mark Flack, a Holladay resident who says the company’s decision is “phenomenal.”
“I’m ecstatic about it because now I don’t have to move,” he said, calling fluoride a toxin and poison that “does not belong in the human body.”
Not true, responds fellow dentist Anthony Tidwell, another Holladay resident.
“It’s essential,” he said. “We see kids everyday who need thousands of dollars in dental work that could have been avoided by using fluoride.”
Besides, Tidwell says, the water company’s customers were misled about what type of fluoride would be added and what it would cost.
Last year, the City Council passed a nonbinding resolution objecting to adding any “product, substance or chemical” to the water supply unless approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The council also called on the county, state and Congress to pass “quality-control standards” for such additives.
Numerous medical groups — including the American Dental Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — support fluoridation as a way to prevent tooth decay.