Water Fluoridation Bill Advances Through Legislature Despite Opposition

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Truckee Meadows Water Authority Board Vice Chair, County Commissioner Vaughn Hartung.
Truckee Meadows Water Authority Board Vice Chair, County Commissioner Vaughn Hartung.

A bill that would mandate fluoride in Truckee Meadows water is advancing through the Nevada Legislature. That’s despite what is said to be widespread opposition against the bill.

The Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) board does not support the measure, citing among reasons public sentiment against flouridation.

TMWA’s Andy Gebhart said most water customers, who have responded to TMWA, are against fluoridation. Washoe County citizens voted against fluoridation in 2002, causing some to say that the current legislation is an end-run around voters.

Board Vice Chair Vaughn Hartung called the bill a “circumvention of the voters,” saying that Nevada law requires a vote of the people.

Reno Assemblywoman Amber Joiner.

The bill is sponsored by assembly members Amber Joiner (D-Reno) and Michael Sprinkle (D-Sparks). Joiner did not return a request for comment by the time of publication.

The TMWA board posted in February a statement on its website:

It directly contradicts the will of Washoe County voters. In 2002, a countywide vote was taken in Washoe County where 58 percent voted against fluoridation. The Board felt that the present bill, as introduced, circumvents that vote and that any fluoride decisions should require a vote of the public.

Since the bill provides no funding from the state, all costs to implement fluoridation would have to be passed on to the TMWA customers…. In order to comply with the bill, TMWA would have to raise all TMWA customer rates 8.83 percent.”

Reno City Coucilwoman, and TMWA board member, Jenny Brekhus, said costs to introduce flouride into the water system would result in a 9-percent rate increase to customers, a “$60 million hit.”

Another reason cited against the measure includes all water systems being fluoridated under the bill, despite most of that water not being used as drinking water.

TMWA’s board of directors voted today to survey customers about the bill.

The draft legislation is slated to go into the legislature’s assembly ways and means committee, but a hearing has not yet been scheduled.

NOTE: This article was updated to correct spellings and add clarifying information.

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About Bob Conrad 834 Articles

Bob Conrad is proprietor and co-founder of ThisisReno. He manages ThisisReno and Conrad Communications, LLC, his marketing communications consulting company (disclosure: client work includes projects funded by grants through UNR) and is an adjunct faculty member at Truckee Meadows Community College. He is a contributor to Reno Public Radio.

14 Comments

  1. blatant disregard of Nev law and the voting public – the political pinheads are on the take – time for WikiLeaks

    • Ronald, please provide an explanation as to exactly how you deem this to be “blatant disregard of Nev law”. Water fluoridation violates no laws.

      Steven D. Slott, DDS
      Communications Officer
      American Fluoridation Society

  2. This issue should be decided by the people who have to pay for it. I don’t think anyone would dispute that logic. A

    • Marlene, did you decide on the myriad routine additives to the public water supply? Since you pay for water which is piped into your home do you believe there should be a public vote on what substances should be added to the source of that water, and in what concentration? Do you believe there should be a vote on how many stoplights are on which streets? You pay for them. How about each and every decision made in regard to public schools of the area? You pay for them. How about decisions of the public health department? You pay for this department. How about taxes? Think each person should decide on how much, or how little taxes he/she will pay?

      Why limit your demand to only fluoridation? If you don’t trust your representatives to make proper decisions on your behalf on this issue, then why would you trust them to make any decisions, whatsoever, on your behalf? Why don’t we just go to a system where each and every decision on each and every issue is decided by a public vote?

      Steven D. Slott, DDS
      Communications Officer
      American fluoridation Society

  3. In regard to the “$60 million hit” claimed by Jenny Brekhus, in a detailed cost analysis of the Truckee Meadows fluoridation needs, the CDC has estimated an implementation cost of $3 million – $10 million, with yearly mainenance costs of $882,000. Using the highest figure of $10 million, for the 385,000 population of this area this translates to $26 per person for startup costs, and $2.29 per person, per year for annual fluoridation costs. This cost analysis included a detailed breakdown and explanation of the overestimates which had previously been provided to Washoe County for startup and yearly costs for the Truckee region.

    The detailed CDC cost estimate is a far cry from the “$60 million hit” claimed by Brekhus, and the grossly overestimate figure of 8.83% increase in bills.

    In regard to the often attempted antifluoridation argument of “most of that water not being used as drinking water, the reality is that: countless peer-reviewed scientific studies clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of fluoridation in the prevention of dental decay…..in the entire 72 year history of fluoridation there have been no proven adverse effects……peer-reviewed science has demonstrated no adverse effect on the environment from optimally fluoridated water. In view of these facts, it makes no difference how much of the water is not used for drinking water. Water fluoridation works as it is supposed to work, with no adverse effects.

    Additionally, peer-reviewed science has demonstrated a cost savings of $15-$50, or more, per $1 spent on water fluoridation. I will gladly provide the studies should anyone so desire.

    The gross overestimation of costs, the stale argument about “most water” use, and the ignoring of cost-savings of fluoridation clearly example why state legislative action on fluoridation is often necessary in the best interests of all citizens. If antifluoridationists would confine themselves to remaining within the bounds of truth and accuracy, cease disseminating misinformation gleaned from antifluoridationist groups, and properly educate themselves on the issue from appropriate sources of accurate information, perhaps meaningful discussions could be held locally, with local citizenries then being able make informed decisions based on the best available evidence. As this will never occur, state legislative action is necessary in order to overcome the mass onslaughts of misinformation from activists, thereby protecting the best interests of all citizens.

    Steven D. Slott, DDS
    Communications Officer
    American Fluoridation Society

    • With all due respect to your position, cost aside, you neglect the many complicating factors here. This proposal is on top of an already oncoming rate increase, which many users are opposed to, there are downstream interests that need to be considered and, most notably, it appears this proposal usurps Nevada law. That latter is among the chief reasons — another being the end-run around voters, which you neglect to address — for why many are opposed to this measure.

      This is irrespective of the science, with which many of the decision makers openly do not take issue, and the benefits of fluoridation.

      Please educate yourself to the nuances of the Reno area before trying to place a blanket solution onto something that is far more complicated in reality in this region; otherwise, it comes across as the same kind of advocacy you criticize.

      • Provide valid documentation of these “complicating factors” and “downstream interests” and you may have some credibility with that argument. Fluoridation opponents are notorious for making such vague unsubstantiated claims, however, and in the absence of such documentation, your claim has no credence. Any rate increase in regard to fluoridation will be minimal at most, and will be far outweighed by the benefits to the cirizenry, and the documented cost-savings. I will gladly provide you with the studies.

        It is highly doubtful that this proposal usurps any laws.

        If you want to engage in meaningful discussion on this issue then you will need far more than vague, unsubstantiated claims.

        Steven D. Slott, DDS
        Communications Officer
        American Fluoridation Society

          • There is nothing to be affected “downstream”. Water fluoridation simply increases the concentration level of existing fluoride ions in water supplies. Nothing else. The only things ingested as a result of fluoridation are fluoride ions identical to those which have always existed in water, and barely detectable trace contaminants in amounts far below EPA mandated maximum allowable levels of safety.

            The argument of fluoridation opponents in regard to safety of fluoridation substances, most notably hydrofluorosilic acid, has no merit. Immediately upon addition to drinking water, due to the neutral pH of that water, HFA completely hydrolyzes (dissociates) into fluoride ions and trace contaminants. After that point, HFA no longer exists in that water. It does not reach the tap. It is not ingested. It is of no concern, whatsoever. I’ll provide the supporting science if you wish.

            I’ll look at the links you provided.

            Steven D. Slott, DDS
            Communications Officer
            American Fluoridation Society

            • Well, that’s up to the powers that be, however, if they are not mandated to be allowed input, then there is no reason that they should have it. Fluoride at the optimal level at which water is fluoridated is colorless, tasteless, odorless, and causes no adverse effects. There is no valid scientific reason to oppose the slight increase required to obtain maximum benefit from a substance we all ingest in water anyway. Given that non-fluoridated systems are capped only by the EPA MCL of 4.0 mg/liter, fluoridated systems, maintained at a constant 0.7 mg/liter, offer far more control. Such is one of the main fallacies of antifluoridation arguments. By not understanding the issue or the science behind it, they are actually arguing for less control over fluoride intake, rather than for more control as they mistakenly believe.

              Our elected/appointed leaders constantly make decisions in the best interests of their constituencies, without public input from each and every person who may be affected. The only thing that should be expected is that these leaders make these decisions based on the best available evidence, and recommendations from those best qualified to render appropriate ones. In regard to fluoridation, when these leaders abdicate their responsibilities by throwing the decision into open public debate, it opens the door to massive onslaughts of misinformation sourced mainly from the New York antifluoridation faction, “FAN”.

              I’m not sure of the point of your first link other than to show that fluoridation was defeated in 2002, undoubtedly due to exactly what I have been stating…..massive onslaughts of misinformation. The problem is not so much that citizens shouldn’t have a say, but the fact that they cannot have an informed say on fluoridation that isn’t completely confused by false claims and misinformation from antifluoridationists and their organizations which have no respect for truth and accuracy.

              Is there anything in particular in the 2+ hour meeting of your second link, that you believe I should hear?

              Steven D. Slott, DDS
              Communications Officer
              American Fluoridation Society

  4. I guess I will know who I won’t vote for the next election, These democrats continue to try to make Nevada another California. They need to go.

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