CARSON CITY, Nev.—A measure to require the Truckee Meadows Water Authority to fluoridate water in the Reno area has died without an Assembly committee vote needed to keep it alive.
Assembly Health and Human Services Chairwoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, said there wasn’t support in her committee or the full Assembly for SB311.
“It’s dead,” Smith said of the measure. “There was enough concern in our committee and the timing was not right, having Washoe County previously vote it down and having the large expense with TMWA having just raised their rates.”
While Smith said there was “compelling” information on the success of water fluoridation elsewhere, she said Clark and Washoe counties are “so different.” Bill supporters argued that lowered dental costs and increased dental health because of water fluoridation in the Las Vegas area showed why Washoe County should do the same.
Smith also said the state’s bleak finances were another reason to kill the bill. TMWA estimated it would cost about $5 million to start fluoridation and about $1.5 million a year to continue the program. Water bills in Washoe County would increase 50 to 75 cents a month for most homes and businesses.
“I know that if you extrapolated it to the individual households, it doesn’t appear to be a lot of money, but it’s a large capital outlay,” Smith said.
As far as Washoe County fluoridation in the future, Smith said, “I think it’s going to have to come from the vote of the people in Washoe County.”
“Times may change when the climate is different and maybe a public information campaign will be done,” Smith said. “But I know that people have very valid concerns about not having the choice about having it in their water or not. I just think it was difficult.”
The plan had been opposed by conservative activists suspicious of government fluoridation programs and supported by health care officials and professionals.
Jeanette Belz of the Nevada Dental Association had argued that $13 million in dental health costs were saved by fluoridating water in the Las Vegas area, at a cost of 19 cents per person.
Juanita Cox of Citizens in Action opposed the bill. She said she has the disease fluorosis as a result of naturally occurring fluoride in water, adding that putting fluoride in water jeopardizes the health of people who can’t tolerate the substance.