Fluoride Action Network

San Antonio: Editorial against vote by the Bexar Metropolitan Water District to stop fluoridation

Source: Express-News | Editor of the Express-News
Posted on October 3rd, 2010
Location: United States, Texas

Note from FAN:
The population of San Antonio was estimated at 1,144,646 in the 2000 census. According to the the Bexar Metropolitan Water District: BexarMet “was established by the Texas Legislature in 1945 and currently serves approximately 91,000 connections in Atascosa, Bexar, Comal and Medina counties. BexarMet is unique among water utilities in that the District is comprised of several (19) smaller water systems not interconnected with each other. While approximately 60% of BexarMet customers reside within the San Antonio city limits, BexarMet also serves customers in Somerset, Castle Hills, Hill Country Village, Hollywood Park, Bulverde, and portions of Converse. Reference

Title of editorial: Flouride [sic] not up to job of halting BexarMet’s decay

Since 1945, fluoridated water has dramatically contributed to improved public health for Americans rich and poor.

The highly regarded Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites fluoride as one of the top 10 public health advances in the 20th century, along with vaccination, identifying tobacco as a cancer agent and the development of nutrition science.

For 10 years now, San Antonio residents have enjoyed the same protection after shedding the dubious label of the last major U.S. city without fluoridated water.

Science and common sense finally overcame ignorance and fear-mongering here in a November 2000 special election. Now, tens of thousands of city households and businesses risk falling victim once again to public officials who lack the education or vision to embrace science over politics.

After a closed-door session that averted public scrutiny, the dysfunctional board and management that oversees the Bexar Metropolitan Water District last week voted to stop adding fluoride to the water it supplies to the majority of its 90,000 residential and commercial users.

I say “majority” because BexarMet has long used self-serving informal research to justify its decision not to fluoridate the water delivered to Hill Country Village and Hollywood Park.

Board members decided Monday by a margin of 4-1 to eliminate fluoride and its annual expense of $110,000. That’s a small sum of money when one considers CDC research that shows a fluoridated water supply reduces the incidence of cavities in children by 40 percent to 70 percent and reduces the incidence of tooth loss in adults by a similar 40 percent to 60 percent — regardless of socioeconomic status.

I add that last fact for the Alamo Heights City Council, which provides water to its residents independent of SAWS and BexarMet and justifies its rejection of fluoride by citing cost and the fact that most of us ’09ers can afford private dental care.

It’s not big news, of course, that ignorance can trump science even in the more privileged ZIP codes.

BexarMet board President Guadalupe Lopez last week blamed “sleazy media” for the utility’s continuing bad headlines. I assume that is a reference to Colin McDonald, our energetic water reporter, whose only fault might be that he knows more about the subject than the people he covers at BexarMet.