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AGLO 1970 No. 052 - March 31, 1970
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

[[Orig. Op. Page 1]]
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                                                                  March 31, 1970
Honorable John A. Bagnariol
State Representative, 35th District
10450 61st Avenue South
Seattle, Washington 98178
                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1970 No. 52
Dear Sir:
            This is written in response to your recent letter requesting our opinion as to the authority of a certain water district to expend district funds on a lawsuit designed to enjoin the city of Seattle from introducing flouride in the water supply of the district.
            It is not clear to us from your letter what the relationship is between the city of Seattle and the water district in question ‑ in terms of why water which is being flouridated by the city of Seattle in accordance with its charter and/or ordinance is being utilized by the water district in its water system.  Most probably, however, the district's use of Seattle city water would be pursuant to some sort of a contractual agreement between the city and the district.
            If the contract contains any provisions with respect to the question of flouridation, then, of course, an action to enforce this provision (assuming that it is being violated by the city through its introduction of flouride into the water) could be said to be authorized.  However, on the other hand, assuming (as is more probably the case) that the contract in question is silent on the subject of flouridation, then the city's introduction of flouride into the water which it is selling to the district would not constitute a violation of the contract ‑ and, hence, would not constitute a basis for legal action by the district.
            Furthermore, it is very definitely our opinion that unless the district is in a position of maintaining a legal action on the basis of a violation of its contract with the city, then no basis for the expenditure of district funds to finance a lawsuit can be said to exist.  The mere fact  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] that the residents of the water district ". . . were not afforded the right to vote on the flouride issue . . .," to quote from your letter, would not be a basis for legal action by the water district ‑ either on its own behalf or on behalf of its residents ‑ for the Washington supreme court has held that the people served by water systems do not have any constitutional right to vote on the issue of flouridation.  See, Kaul v. Chehalis, 45 Wn.2d 616, 277 P.2d 352 (1954).
            We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
Philip H. Austin
Assistant Attorney General
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