SAN JOSE — The nation's largest city without fluoridated drinking water will finally add tooth decay-fighting fluoride to its water, ending years of debate over how San Jose should treat its tap water.
Even so, residents of San Jose will only get a diluted amount of fluoride in their water for the next two years, because funding approved unanimously by the Santa Clara Valley Water District on Tuesday will not cover the cost of retrofitting all the wells necessary to provide the optimal level of fluoride.
While San Francisco began fluoridating water in the 1950s, the diversity of water sources and the complexity of San Jose's water system held up the process in California's third-largest city.
In recent years, critics of fluoridation have packed public meetings arguing that the chemical isn't safe, and that too much flouride can pit teeth, aggravate thyroid problems and cause other ailments, all claims health officials refute.
Public health advocates see the move as a major advance for residents.