FARMINGTON Some health officials in Davis County say a bill seeking to create a fluoridation task force may be a waste of time and money and could delay fluoridation.
At a meeting Tuesday morning, board of health members voiced concerns that SB206 may put up to a two-year delay on the fluoridation of public water supplies. Residents of Salt Lake and Davis counties in November voted in favor of a measure to add fluoride to drinking water.
County health director Lewis Garrett said he spent four hours Monday talking with water district supervisors and the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Steve Poulton, R-Holladay, in an effort to have the bill changed. Salt Lake County health officials have also said they are worried about the effects of the bill.
SB206 will probably be redrafted, Garrett said, but it still may hinder the fluoridation process.
“It was pretty onerous in (its current) form,” he said, and if the bill were reworked, “the delay would be months rather than years.”
Poulton said last month his intent with the legislation was not to stall fluoridation but to ensure the process was safe. The bill calls for a task force composed of legislators, health officials and representatives from water companies to review fluoridation standards, costs, funding sources, liability issues and possible exemptions for functionally separate water systems and systems that cross county lines.
But the health department has already looked at these issues, health board members argue.
“I have a hard time understanding why this is necessary,” board member Beth Beck said. “It already has to happen.”
And the money the bill would pay task force members could be used elsewhere, board member Montie Keller said.
“It seems like this is $22,000 spent for nothing. We could use it right here,” he said.
County Commissioner Michael Cragun, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, defended the legislation and pointed out what he called a “silver lining in the cloud” ” that the bill would create uniform statewide regulations.
As long as a revised version of the bill allows a fluoridation review to happen concurrently with efforts to implement fluoridation, and if task force members are not looking at whether or not to fluoridate, board members say they will not voice opposition to the bill.
“The delay is inevitable. If the benefits outweigh the risk, we’ll oppose it only if it’s a serious delay,” Garrett said.