Fluoridation begins after permit OK’d

Fluoridation begins after permit OK’d
The Olivenhain Municipal Water District received a permit OK from the California Department of Health on Tuesday to begin fluoridating the water supply. Photo by Tony Cagala

COAST CITIES — Customers of OMWD (Olivenhain Municipal Water District) can expect to have fluoride in their water system in the next several days. 

That comes as OMWD received permit approval to begin the fluoridation process on Tuesday.

According to Tom Kennedy, OMWD operations manager, they began the fluoridation implementation on Wednesday.

The fluoridation process originally scheduled to begin on July 1 was delayed when a permit submitted to the CDPH (California Department of Public Health) wasn’t ready for approval.

The district initially submitted one permit that encompassed all of the projects ongoing at the OMWD facilities.

The CDPH wasn’t ready at that time to issue an OK for the entire permit.

Since then, OWMD resubmitted a permit application solely for the fluoridation process.

With the fluoridation process beginning, OMWD is on the CDPH’s list of agencies not exempt from the requirement to fluoridate.

There is no possibility at this time to prevent the implementation of fluoride for the current fiscal year, July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014, said John Carnegie, a staff analyst with OMWD.

Carnegie added that the CDPH does review the list annually, and should OWMD find itself removed from the list for the fiscal year 2015 the board of directors may reconsider fluoridation.

And public input at that time could affect whether they fluoridate in fiscal year 2015 and beyond.

The SFID (Santa Fe Irrigation District) is one of two coastal North County water districts not to fluoridate the water.

The other is the SDWD (San Dieguito Water District).

Jessica Parks, public information officer/ management analyst with SFID, said they’ve haven’t had to implement fluoride into their water supply “mostly because we’re not regulated to.

“Under AB 733, it says that a public water system must have at least 10,000 service connections and we have, as of 2011, 6,485.”

AB 733 was introduced in 1995 by then-state Assembly member Jackie Speier and took effect Jan. 1, 1997.

The bill’s purpose being, “part of the U.S. Public Health Service’s national campaign to fluoridate 75 percent of all Americans by the turn of the century . . . The measure seeks to address the lack of fluoridation in California’s public water supplies in an effort to prevent tooth decay, the most prevalent but most preventable and costly of oral health problems among all age groups.”

The measure documented that fluoridation is an “emotional” issue, with four primary concerns of public health policy, state mandates versus local control, costs and funding and science.

According to Parks, other reasons SFID hasn’t considered fluoridation is because rate payers have not asked for it and the board of directors hasn’t asked staff to pursue it.

By not pursuing fluoridation, it keeps rates down for their customers, too, she added.

The cost benefit is that they also won’t have to do any upgrades or any special designs needed at the R.E. Badger Filtration Plant, which they share with SDWD.

If fluoridation was ever considered by either district, there would be no issue with the two sharing a plant, Parks explained, because after the water is treated it goes to two separate water systems.

SDWD provides potable and recycled water to 38,000 customers, though they have no intention to implement fluoridation in the future, according to Amber Romero, finance analyst with the district.

She said that the district hasn’t received any calls from rate payers asking for the fluoridation — rather, just the opposite.

In February 2012, they did import fluoridated water from SDCWA (San Diego County Water Authority), which they supplied to their customers while the R.E. Badger Filtration Plant was being maintained. She said the district had alerted their customers to the fact.

Both districts receive their water from local sources as Lake Hodges and untreated water from SDCWA.


Log in with your credentials


Forgot your details?