FARMINGTON — Health officials are vigorously opposing two state lawmakers’ proposed amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act they claim would put a kink in their efforts to distribute fluoridated drinking water to each Davis County city.
County Health Director Lewis R. Garrett said “late-in-the-game” legislation sponsored by Rep. Glenn Donnelson, R-North Ogden, and Rep. Roger Barrus, R-Centerville, may disrupt the fluoridation referendum voters approved in November 2000.
House Bill 158, sponsored by Donnelson, would require any substance added to public water supplies for the purpose of treating disease be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Garrett said that change would essentially prevent fluoridation from being added to public water systems because the FDA does not want jurisdiction over regulating water fluoridation.
The second proposed amendment to the act, House Bill 309, sponsored by Barrus, would define what a functionally separate water system is, allowing voters in a county, municipality or water district the option to add or remove fluoride from its public water system.
Davis cities have until May 2002 to comply with a public health order to add one part per million of fluoride to the water system to prevent tooth decay.
Barrus said his bill allows the electorate to vote to add or take fluoride out of their water, and defines a functionally separate water system as a public water system, not including a wholesale water supplier, providing water to the end user that does not receive from or supply water to another public water system. The legal definition of functionally separate water system has been challenged in the past months by some Davis cities.
Which means, Barrus explained, if a city wants to add or take fluoride out of its water at “the city gate,” they could do so as long as the action is independent of other public water systems.
“I”m disappointed that they are upset,” Barrus said of health officials. But he believes the residents of each individual city need to be given a chance to make the decision.
Donnelson said his bill is to prevent anything being added to drinking water that does not meet with FDA approval.
The grade of fluoride the county is considering adding to Davis water systems contains lead, mercury and arsenic, Donnelson said. He said he is not certain the FDA would approve of these elements.
Donnelson said he understands public health officials having concerns with his legislation, but he is concerned about all the different elements being added to the water.
Because the two bills have yet to be heard in committee, Garrett is hoping they will not be heard this session. The session is set to resume Feb. 25 after the 2002 Winter Games conclude.
“I don”t think either bill is likely to pass,” he said.
But just in case, Garrett said he will attempt to inform lawmakers what the impact will be if either amendment is approved.