On Tuesday, Dec. 18, the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors voted to enter into agreements with three private funders, which have committed to reimbursing the water district for $2.4 million of the costs associated with fluoridating much of Santa Clara County’s water supply.
With Tuesday’s action, the district’s chief executive officer, Beau Goldie, is authorized to negotiate terms and conditions of reimbursement agreements with The Health Trust, First 5 Santa Clara County and the California Dental Association Foundation. Final draft agreements will be brought back to the board of directors for approval.
The three organizations’ contribution would cover more than a third of the cost of building fluoridation facilities at the water district’s three potable water treatment plants. The total estimated capital cost to fluoridate at the three plants is $6.6 million. After recovering $2.4 million of this cost from the three private funders, the district could make up the difference by increasing the cost it charges retailers for treated water by $3 an acre-foot over a 30-year period.
In addition to the capital cost, the district estimates that ongoing annual operating and maintenance costs will be $989,000. This cost could be paid for by raising treated water charges by an additional $9 an acre-foot.
The total increase in treated water charges would result in an estimated increase of 50 cents on the monthly water bill of a household of five, which typically uses one-half acre-foot of water per year.
Several parts of Santa Clara County already receive fluoridated water, including the Evergreen area of San Jose, parts of Mountain View and areas served by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission's Hetch Hetchy system. In Santa Clara County, the SFPUC system serves Los Altos Hills, Palo Alto, Stanford University, Ames Research Center, and parts of Milpitas, Mountain View, north San Jose (Alviso), Santa Clara and Sunnyvale.
In November 2011, the water district board of directors adopted policy language to support fluoridation at its three treatment plants and at three water supply wells located in Campbell. Subsequently, the three water supply wells were dropped from the fluoridation plan because the wells are only used as a backup water supply.
Community water fluoridation is supported by most major national and international health service organizations. Supporters include: the American Dental Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recognized the fluoridation of drinking water as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. San Jose is the largest city in the United States without complete fluoridation.
--Santa Clara Valley Water District
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