Derek Ray 5:51 p.m., May 19
Debate over fluoride in water resurfaces in San Diego
Outside funding is running dry and the City must decide what to do about the fluoridation of the water supply.
The debate over adding fluoride to the City's water supply is back. After two years, the City of San Diego is forced to revisit the issue.
State law requires large water suppliers to fluoridate its drinking water in hopes of preventing dental disease and improving oral health in children. At the same time, the State gives a pass to any public agency if no outside funding is available. So, for more than ten years, the City of San Diego held off just for that reason.
By 2008, according to some county officials, the City of San Diego was the largest municipality in the country without fluoridated water.
That same year came an offer from the First 5 Commission, a county sponsored child health-care program paid for with Proposition 10 tax revenues, to give the City $3.9 million to fluoridate its water at three water treatment plants. The money also paid for two years of operations and maintenance. And, in February 2011, the City began adding the additive to its drinking water.
The decision wasn't without controversy then and isn't to this day. Now the money has nearly run dry and the debate has resurfaced.
"Fluoride is a toxic poison perpetrated on the people by the ADA, and government officials," reads a Facebook page entitled "Stop Fluoridation in San Diego's Public Water Supply."
"Fluoride is a potent poison and industrial waste product, used in rat and cockroach poison and the military sarin nerve gas."
And conversely, lobbyists are once again roaming City Hall in search of support for fluoridation. A recent lobbying disclosure shows the California Dental Association has once again turned to Richard Ledford, a former aide to Mayor Susan Golding, to lobby city officials in support of fluoridation.
But first the City must identify any legal obstacles. In a March 14 memo, the City Attorney's office attempted to do just that.
According to the City Attorney, the City could still be exempt from State law if outside funding is no longer available.
"There are two separate funding conditions that trigger compliance with the state fluoridation mandate. The first concerns the installation of a fluoridation system, which has already been completed by the City. The second concerns the operation of the fluoridation system. Compliance with this requirement is necessary “in any given fiscal year (July 1-June 30)” when funds from an outside source become available “sufficient to pay noncapital operation and maintenance costs"...Conversely, absent outside funding, the City does not have a legal obligation to continue fluoridating its public water supply after the initial outside funding is exhausted," reads the memo.
"SDMC section 67.0101 is preempted by state law, and is therefore not an impediment to continued fluoridation of the City’s water supply. If further outside funding is unavailable, the City has discretion to continue or to stop fluoridation. Water enterprise funds may be used to continue fluoridation, but a Proposition 218 process may be necessary if sufficient water funds are not available."