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Issue date: February 18, 2000

City moving ahead on fluoridation plan City moving ahead on fluoridation plan (February 18, 2000)

by Laurie Phillips

Mountain View's water flouridation project is on track, city officials said this week, with most of the $1.4 million funding secured.

An effort to block the project by Mountain View attorney Gary Wesley should not be a problem, according to City Attorney Michael Martello, who said he expects the suit to be thrown out when it is heard in Superior Court February 29.

Wesley said Wednesday that he will make an effort to settle the case this week during a meeting with city attorneys, but that he expected to appear on February 29.

If the suit is thrown out, Wesley said he will take his case to the Court of Appeals and on to the Supreme Court, if necessary.

"We are raising issues that have never been addressed," he said.

In the suit, Wesley charges that Mountain View's environmental assessment only analyzed the impact of building the system, but not of the flouride itself.

"The plaintiff (Wesley) didn't ask for an injunction," Martello said. Had Wesley done this, he added, the project could potentially have been halted.

As for the $1.4 million necessary to fluoridate the water, city officials say nothing has changed -- the funds have been there since they were originally promised.

"Every few months I hear that, and every few months I go to my staff, and they always tell me, 'No, the funding is in place,'" Mayor Rosemary Stasek said. "I'm not sure where they (the people) are getting that information from." Each of the four entities that promised funds still intends to contribute them, Stasek said.

The last and largest share of the money was secured July 15, when city officials accepted a $540,000 grant from the Fluoridation 2000 Work Group. The remainder of the funding comprises $210,000 from the city of Mountain View, $150,000 from Santa Clara County and $500,000 from the Santa Clara County Water District.

"It's not just a verbal agreement, the money's there," said the Work Group's David Nelson, who raised the issue with the city council two years ago and personally worked on Mountain View's fluoridation campaign. "We made the commitment over a year ago, and we intend to see Mountain View fluoridated as quickly as possible. As far as we're concerned, Mountain View is a done deal."

Overseers of the project are now soliciting bids for companies that will physically install the fluoridation equipment, according to Public Works Director Cathy Lazarus. Five prefabricated concrete units, which will house the fluoridation equipment, will be constructed near major connections to the city's water suppliers.

Mountain View is served by Hetch-Hetchy Reservoir and the Santa Clara County Water District. After a chosen company begins work, the project is scheduled to be finished 12 to 18 months later.

When the construction is complete, Lazarus said, almost all Mountain View residents served by the city will have fluoridated water. About 650 connections, served by the California Water Company, are excluded from this group, said Gregg Hosfeldt, public works business manager. People can find out what the status of their water will be in a year by looking at their water bills.

Some of the areas California Water Company serves include Barbara, Brookdale, Bryant, Eunice, Isabelle and Martens avenues; Carmelita, Marilyn and Sleeper drives; and Starr Way. The California Water Company also serves the city of Los Altos, which is not fluoridated.

Mountain View residents endorsed fluoridated water in November 1998, when they passed advisory Measure O by a 3-to-2 margin.

Palo Alto residents, who have had a fluoridated water supply since 1956, have not suffered any known adverse effects from the fluoride, said Linda Clerkson, public relations manager for City of Palo Alto Utilities.

Other sources of fluoride provide more concentrated doses, she said. "The parts per million (in the water) is so much smaller than what's in toothpaste," Clerkson said.

Mountain View's water is slated to be fluoridated at one part per million, which is a level considered safe by federal standards. It is approximately equivalent to one milligram of fluoride per liter of water.


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