Mercury News Examines Water Fluoridation Issue in Watsonville
The San Jose Mercury News today examines issues related to the Watsonville water fluoridation ban, an ordinance that represents the "first formal test" of a state law that requires the practice (Beck, San Jose Mercury News, 1/9). Under a 1995 state law, communities with at least 10,000 water connections must add fluoride to their water supply, provided that they can fund the project with a source other than tax revenue (California Healthline, 11/21/02). Last November, voters in Watsonville approved Measure S, an ordinance that bans the addition of substances not approved by the FDA, such as fluoride, to the city water supply. However, the city last March received a grant from the California Dental Association Foundation to implement a fluoridation system, and state regulators at the time informed city officials that they must implement the system within two years. Watsonville is the first community in the state that decided to reject water fluoridation after funds were secured to implement a system. State regulators have not decided whether they will take action to enforce the 1995 law, Division of Drinking Water and Environment Management spokesperson Lea Brooks said. David Spath, a state health official, said, "If indeed there is funding made available, then the law does take effect and we would have to implement the law." Marta McKenzie, public health director for Shasta County, said, "The state's never really enforced this law. We're all in uncharted territory." McKenzie, whose jurisdiction includes Redding, where voters last November passed a measure similar to Measure S, added, "I think we're getting to the place where we're realizing we're going to be in court one way or another" (San Jose Mercury News, 1/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.