A few weeks ago, we got good news on water fluoridation from Mercury News writer Paul Rogers. After decades of delay and decay, some 230,000 people who are customers of the San Jose Water Co. in East San Jose and Almaden Valley started to receive fluoridated water in December. An additional 520,000 are due to get it by 2020 in the West Valley.
You can thank the Santa Clara Valley Water District, which is upgrading its drinking water plants, as well as the Health Trust, First 5 Santa Clara County, and the California Dental Association, which all donated money to the project. San Jose was the largest U.S. city not to have fluoride. (And sorry, I buy no conspiracy: Fluoride helps avert tooth decay.)
There is a back story here, one that does not reflect particularly well on the San Jose Water Co., the 1960s-era Santa Clara County supervisors, or the California Public Utilities Commission. It helps to reveal the price the valley has had to pay for a Balkanized political system and a water company that answers to shareholders, not city officials.
The story begins with a young lawyer who became a caricature later in his political career, but who started as an earnest good-government advocate, John Vasconcellos. Before he was elected to a long career in the California Legislature, Vasconcellos, who died in 2014, led a campaign to fluoridate the city’s water supply. It failed for reasons that were not his fault.
Under lobbying from…
click here to read more.