Still stung by the passage of a fluoride referendum more than two years ago, grass-roots activist Kay Turner is gearing up to stop the addition of the cavity-fighting chemical to the local water supply.
Turner, a high-profile personality in battles against the Applewhite reservoir and previous fluoridation attempts, said she is drafting a proposed amendment that could be on the November ballot as a Charter amendment.
She said the possible Charter change, while not mentioning fluoride specifically, would make it “unlawful and a public nuisance” to add any substance to the water supply that could affect the “physical or mental functions of any person.”
The possible amendment also would force local water officials to abide by strict federal standards of the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, which normally don’t apply to drinking water.
While the prevailing opinion of scientists is that fluoride is safe in regulated amounts, fluoride foes say the potential harmful effects to humans are not worth the risk of adding it to drinking water.
“We’re not trying to divide anybody,” Turner said. “I would think that everybody would embrace something that would ensure the safety of our drinking water.”
Local water officials, who have been adding fluoride to the water supply since August, said they didn’t know of any precedent for such a move. SAWS spokesman John Boggess said the utility already meets stringent guidelines of the Safe Drinking Water Act, which requires an annual report of contaminant levels be issued to water customers.
After completing the proposed language, Turner said she will approach an unnamed City Council member to attempt to put the Charter referendum on the ballot. Failing that, Turner said she will hit the streets for the 20,000 signatures necessary to put the measure on the November ballot.
“I can do that in my sleep,” Turner said.
If successful, such an amendment could complicate matters for local leaders who plan to seek voter approval on a variety of questions in November, including term limits and possible bond issues for a range of projects. But Mayor Ed Garza downplayed the possibility of another fluoride debate.
“Without seeing anything specific, it’s not something I’m focused on at this point,” he said. “I don’t think this community should spend more time and money on an issue that’s already been decided by the voters.”