Watsonville Tap Water Will Not Have Fluoride
POSTED: 2:02 pm PST February 2, 2012
UPDATED: 5:20 pm PST February 2, 2012
WATSONVILLE, Calif. — A decade-long battle between state health officials who wanted fluoride in Watsonville’s drinking water to improve oral health, and Watsonville city leaders who opposed it, ended Thursday.The California Dental Association Foundation pushed for and introduced fluoride into several California cities’ tap water. The CDAF argued that low-income families that cannot afford visits to the dentist’s office greatly benefited.Water fluoridation was cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of the top-10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th Century.But the controversial idea of pumping fluoride into Watsonville, where many elementary school students already have decaying teeth, is dead in the water.Resistance from city leaders and local groups, coupled with pricey contracts for the project, combined to cause the CDAF to throw its hands in the air and give up Thursday, CDAF officials said.“Many in Watsonville suffer from dental disease. Statewide data shows children in particular live in chronic pain, miss school and have difficulty learning due to untreated tooth decay,” Donald Rollofson of the CDAF said.“Unfortunately, Watsonville’s project bids far exceeded the estimated costs of the fluoridation facilities,” Rollofson said.The legal battles between Watsonville and state began in 2002.Watsonville city leaders and anti-fluoride groups dug in their heels, arguing that they did not want potentially harmful chemicals added to their water.The state had a victory in one high-profile legal case, City of Watsonville v. California State Department of Health Services, that established a significant legal precedence in California. The judge ruled state fluoridation statutes preempt any conflicting local ordinance.