At its February meeting, the TMWA Board of Directors voted unanimously to not support Assembly Bill 193 (AB193), introduced at the Nevada State Legislature by Assemblywoman Amber Joiner and Assemblyman Michael Sprinkle. Current law requires an affirmative vote of the public in order to implement fluoridation in a public water supply (with the exception of Clark County, whose voters approved fluoridation in 2000). The bill would change that law and would require TMWA to fluoridate its water supply without a public vote. TMWA is the only public water supplier impacted by the bill.
The Board listed the following reasons for their opposition to AB193:
- Pre-emption of local control.
- Circumvention of the previous countywide vote against fluoridation.
- The high cost of fluoridation, which would be passed on to TMWA customers.
Explanations Regarding the Above Reasons:
- The bill deprives voters of the right to decide whether to fluoridate their local water supply. TMWA Board members felt that the decision to fluoridate the local water supply should remain in local control and be based on voter approval, as the current law requires.
- 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. It would be an unfunded mandate. A preliminary cost estimate for fluoridation in the TMWA system—provided by a 3rd party engineering firm—is $66.5 million for infrastructure retrofits and $3 million annually for operations and maintenance. In order to comply with the bill, TMWA would have to raise all TMWA customer rates 8.83 percent. Board members had significant concerns imposing such a high cost on TMWA customers without providing them the right to decide through a public vote on whether they are willing to pay those costs. The bill, as introduced, would also require that all water sources in the TMWA service area be fluoridated. This would include TMWA’s 83 production wells.
The Board was neutral on fluoridation as a community health concept, their primary concern being the decision should ultimately be made by the local community, as current law requires. If you have questions or concerns regarding this bill, please contact your state legislators.
TMWA Fluoridation Customer Survey
At their February 2017 meeting, TMWA’s Board of Directors requested a survey of TMWA’s residential customers to obtain their feedback about AB193.
The survey– conducted by third-party research firm InfoSearch International – used a questionnaire which clarified that TMWA is neutral on fluoridation as a community health concept. It provided general reasons both in favor of and against supporting the additional cost to add fluoride to the water supply, as well as general reasons both in favor of and against supporting the Nevada State Legislature passing this bill without a vote of the public.
Over three out of five respondents – 63.0% of telephone respondents and 76.8% of email respondents – indicated that they would not support raising customers rates 9 percent to have fluoride added to the community’s water supply.
Additionally, four out of five respondents – 79.5% of telephone respondents and 82.4% of email respondents – indicated that they would not support the Nevada State Legislature passing this bill without a vote of the public.
Links Related to Assembly Bill 193
- AB193 Information on the NV Legislature Website
- Text of AB193 as introduced
- Share your opinion on AB193 (NV Legislature Website)
- View Comments About AB193 on NV Legislature Website