Fluoridating Santa Clara Valley Water Drips Ahead

Supporters say community water fluoridation prevents cavities and saves money, both for families and the health care system.

Wednesday, Nov 16, 2011  |  Updated 10:38 AM PDT
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Fluoridating Santa Clara Valley Water Drips Ahead

Tim Graham

The plan is not a done deal yet.

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The Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors took a step toward fluoridating the county's water system.

The board voted 7-0 to approve a new policy that supports  fluoridation at the district's three water treatment plants and three  district-owned water supply wells in Campbell.   

According to the Health Trust, a Campbell-based nonprofit  organization that advocated for the policy, water fluoridation has been shown  to decrease cavities in children up to 40 percent and is one of the most  cost-effective ways to prevent childhood dental disease. Fluoridation also  has been shown to prevent tooth loss among older adults, according to the  Health Trust.

Supporters include Santa Clara County Supervisor Liz Kniss and Dr.  Marty Fenstersheib, the county's health officer. They also include such  health service organizations as the American Dental Association, American  Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the Centers for  Disease Control, and the World Health Organization.

Health Trust CEO Frederick Ferrer said that water fluoridation is  recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of the 10  great public health breakthroughs of the 20th century.

"This is great news, especially for children and older adults in  Santa Clara County," Ferrer said in a statement. "Thanks to the leadership of  the water district board, children in our community will finally get the  benefits of community water fluoridation."

Mountain View and the San Jose community of Evergreen already have  fluoridated water. Mountain View receives water from the San Francisco Public  Utilities Commission and Evergreen is served by the San Jose Municipal Water  System.

  Even after fluoridating water at the district's three treatment  plants, areas of San Jose would remain without fluoride and much of the  central part of the county would receive blends of non-fluoridated  groundwater and fluoridated treated water.

The district's Campbell Well Field, which contains the only  groundwater wells that the district operates itself, provide an emergency  water supply to the district's treated water system.

Next, a committee of the board will work with the Health Trust and  the California Department of Public Health to identify sources of funding for  the capital costs, which are expected to range from $4.4 to $9.5 million, and  annual operations and maintenance costs, expected to cost about $836,000.

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