State Update

Portland, Oregon Voters Reject Community Water Fluoridation

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As you recall, the Portland, Oregon City Council met September 12 and approved an ordinance to add fluoride to its drinking water. The city council approved the proposed measure by a vote of 5-0. However, opponents of community water fluoridation gathered enough signatures within 30 days of the City Council’s vote to stop implementation of the ordinance and require a public referendum on the issue at the next regularly scheduled primary election in May 2014. However, according to city code, the council can set an earlier date if the “public interest in a prompt resolution of the question outweighs the costs associated with a special election.” As a result, prior to retiring December 31, City Council Commissioner Randy Leonard offered a resolution to move the referendum from 2014 to 2013. On December 20, the Portland City Council (see agenda item 1521) voted 3-1 to move the date of Portland’s public referendum on community water fluoridation from May 2014 to May 2013. To view the timeline of events, click here.

On May 21, during a special election, the public voted against adding fluoride to Portland’s community water supply. The ballot measure (ballot measure 26-151) was defeated by 60.6% of the voters. Funds for the community water fluoridation would have been obtained through water user fees. According to statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 73.9% of the U.S. population received fluoridated water through community water systems in 2010; however, only 22.6% of Oregon residents received fluoridated water through community water systems that same year.