SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — The Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors Tuesday took a step toward fluoridating the county’s water system.

The board voted 7-0 to approve a new policy that supports fluoridation at the district’s three water treatment plants and three district-owned water supply wells in Campbell.

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Supporters say community water fluoridation prevents cavities and saves money, both for families and the health care system.

According to the Health Trust, a Campbell-based nonprofit organization that advocated for the policy, water fluoridation has been shown to decrease cavities in children up to 40 percent and is one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent childhood dental disease. Fluoridation also has been shown to prevent tooth loss among older adults, according to the Health Trust.

Supporters include Santa Clara County Supervisor Liz Kniss and Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, the county’s health officer. They also include such health service organizations as the American Dental Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization.

Health Trust CEO Frederick Ferrer said that water fluoridation is recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of the 10 great public health breakthroughs of the 20th century.

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“This is great news, especially for children and older adults in Santa Clara County,” Ferrer said in a statement. “Thanks to the leadership of the water district board, children in our community will finally get the benefits of community water fluoridation.”

Mountain View and the San Jose community of Evergreen already have fluoridated water. Mountain View receives water from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and Evergreen is served by the San Jose Municipal Water System.

Even after fluoridating water at the district’s three treatment plants, areas of San Jose would remain without fluoride and much of the central part of the county would receive blends of non-fluoridated groundwater and fluoridated treated water.

The district’s Campbell Well Field, which contains the only groundwater wells that the district operates itself, provide an emergency water supply to the district’s treated water system.

Next, a committee of the board will work with the Health Trust and the California Department of Public Health to identify sources of funding for the capital costs, which are expected to range from $4.4 to $9.5 million, and annual operations and maintenance costs, expected to cost about $836,000.

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