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November 22, 2011 > Santa Clara Valley Water District board supports fluoride

Santa Clara Valley Water District board supports fluoride

Submitted By Marty Grimes

On Tuesday, Nov. 15, the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors unanimously adopted new policy language to support fluoridation at each of the district's three water treatment plants and three district-owned water supply wells located in Campbell.

The board's action comes after several months of studying the issue. Two public workshops were held and dozens of community members have written letters and provided comments to the board in support or opposition to the policy change.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes water fluoridation as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. Two published studies conducted by the CDC reaffirm the benefits of community water fluoridation. Together, the studies continue to show that widespread community water fluoridation prevents cavities and saves money, both for families and the health care system. The studies found that for communities of more than 20,000 people, every $1 invested in fluoridation yields approximately $38 savings in dental treatment costs.

Community water fluoridation is supported by most major national and international health service organizations. Supporters include: the American Dental Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the CDC, and the World Health Organization.

As a water wholesaler, the water district is not subject to the 1995 California law, Assembly Bill 733, which requires that water providers with more than 10,000 connections fluoridate when funding is available. The water district board recognized that fluoridation at the three treatment plants is more effective and efficient than each of the district's retail water agencies fluoridating their treated water.

In Santa Clara County, the city of Mountain View and other cities receiving water from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission already have fluoridated water. The San Josˇ community of Evergreen, served by the City of San Josˇ Municipal Water system, also receives fluoridated water.

Fluoridating water at the district's treatment plants would greatly increase the number of county residents receiving fluoridated water, but areas of San Josˇ would remain without fluoride and much of the central part of the county would receive varying blends of non-fluoridated groundwater and fluoridated treated water.

The district's Campbell Well Field contains the only groundwater wells that the district operates itself. These three wells, located at the corner of San Tomas Expressway and West Campbell Avenue, provide an emergency water supply to the district's treated water system.

With the new policy direction, the district will now coordinate with The Health Trust, a local non-profit organization, and the California Department of Public Health to identify potential funding sources for the capital and ongoing operations and maintenance costs. Early estimates are that the capital costs will range from $4.4 to $9.5 million, and annual operations and maintenance will cost about $836,000.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District manages an integrated water resources system that includes the supply of safe, clean water, flood protection and stewardship of streams on behalf Santa Clara County's 1.8 million residents.

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