A bill that would mandate fluoridating the water in Truckee Meadows is receiving heavy opposition. Our News Director Michelle Billman spoke with Bob Conrad of ThisisReno to learn more.
KUNR: Who is proposing this bill and what reasons have they given?
Bob Conrad: The bill is sponsored by Assembly members Amber Joiner of Reno and Michael Sprinkle of Sparks, and the reason that was given is because many municipalities, some say most, have fluoride in public water supplies.
KUNR: And what are the benefits they tout?
BC: Some of the experts say it’s a relatively inexpensive way to basically improve public health via helping folks with issues with their teeth who aren’t getting enough of the right chemicals or fluoride or whatever with proper dental practices. So some people say this is an effective way to prevent tooth decay, essentially.
KUNR: It sounds like a fairly simple idea, but there’s actually be a lot of vocal opposition. Who is not in favor and why?
BC: I would divide the opposition into two camps. There’s a very vocal group that’s opposed to fluoridation on the basis that they believe it’s not healthy, they believe it’s poisoning the water supply, they believe government shouldn’t be involved in this kind of intervention on a public health level, even though experts overwhelmingly agree that fluoridation is not harmful—that it does enhance public health relatively inexpensively.
The other group that’s opposed to this is the policymakers, and they have two primary complaints as I see it. In 2002, there was a countywide vote, basically, against fluoridation. 58% of the population voted against it, so the Truckee Meadows Water Authority board cited that as one reason for why they’re going to oppose this bill. They consider this a circumvention of the will of the voters.
The other reason is potential cost. The TMWA board is saying that this is going to be an approximately $70 million hit to rate payers, and TMWA is already in the process of raising rates, so on top of that, this would be another, what one board member said, huge hit against the ratepayers.