Fluoride debate at Olivehurst Public Utility District
The water-fluoridation debate in the Olivehurst Public Utility District will come to a head this month.
At the district's Jan. 19 board meeting, directors could make a decision on whether to keep putting the controversial chemical compound in the water despite a handful of residents who want it out.
"We don't need fluoride in the water to accomplish what we need to do," said Justin DeVorss, a Plumas Lake resident who began agitating for the district to stop adding the compound late last year. Fluoride is so common now in food, toothpaste and as a feature of visits to the dentist, he said, that overexposure is actually a problem.
OPUD began adding fluoride in 2010, with the help of grants from First 5 Yuba. Proponents say fluoride aids strong dental health, while opponents like DeVorss said such claims are unfounded and the substance is actually far more harmful to the human body than helpful.
"You can't mass medicate," DeVorss said, adding several cities, including ones in Alaska, have dropped fluoride in recent years after finding no beneficial effects from putting it in the water.
At their meeting this week, directors briefly discussed a proposal by General Manager Tim Shaw to build a kiosk outside an OPUD water treatment plant where people could get fluoride-free water.
Shaw said the cost hasn't been determined for such an approach, though further consideration is on hold until the board makes an overall policy determination on fluoride.
"Practically speaking, you would have a tap with some signage," Shaw said.
But DeVorss said he sees little merit in the idea, because it's impractical for residents to get all their water needs from one source away from their homes.
"I think it was kind of a joke, to be honest," he said of Shaw's idea.
OPUD Director Gary Bradford said since the discussion first came up, he's become better ed cated about fluoride and more sympathetic to the concerns raised by opponents.
But he still hasn't decided how he'll vote Jan. 19, he said, acknowledging it's possible most district customers like fluoride in their water just fine.
"I wish there was a way to poll the community and get their feelings as a whole," he said, adding he hopes the next meeting will have a large turnout of people to speak on both sides.
If there are those who favor keeping fluoride, getting rid of it would put them in the same position the opposition side feels they're in now: forced by someone else's choice. But DeVorss said it's not an informed view.
"The public, dentists, everybody, they're just not looking at the truth," he said.
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at email@example.com or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.