WATSONVILLE – After years of negotiations, Watsonville and the California Dental Association Foundation have reached an agreement that could finally put fluoride in the city water supply – a first for Santa Cruz County.
The city Public Works Department on Tuesday released a draft memo, recommending the City Council either enter into a contract with the foundation to install a system or establish an ad hoc committee to review the city’s options.
The City Council will consider the project Jan. 26.
The city has battled over fluoridation for the better part of a decade. Supporters look for an improvement in the dental health. Foes worry about the safety of the chemical and don’t believe its use should be forced upon them by the addition to a public water supply.
In 2002, Watsonville voters rejected fluoridation, but after a four-year legal battle, state courts ruled California law, which requires the additive be placed in water supplies if money is available, trumped the local ordinance. The foundation had offered a nearly $1 million grant to pay for the project.
After losing the court battle in 2006, Watsonville refused to sign a contract for the grant unless the foundation dropped a requirement making the city solely liable for any problems with the system.
The “hold harmless” clause has been dropped from the current proposed contract. The contract also calls for the foundation to provide funding for design and construction, as well as for the first two years of operation, at an estimated cost of $1.3 million.