Arab Water Works has received a shipment of fluoride and is scheduled to re-fluoridate the water soon after a permit from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management is approved.
The water board has also filed a claim against the city seeking attorney’s fees in the ongoing fluoride matter.
On March 18, Marshall County Circuit Judge Tim Riley ordered the board to immediately begin fluoridating the water supply pending the outcome of the lawsuit by the city against the water board on the issue.
The water board decided to follow the judge’s order rather than risk a contempt of court charge while waiting for the Supreme Court to rule.
Riley said in his order that the city council had the authority to order the board to put fluoride back into the water supply. But, following an executive session the following Monday the water board voted unanimously to appeal the preliminary injunction to the Alabama Supreme Court.
However, according to Hyatt, the board is not going to wait on a decision from the Supreme Court, though fluoride will not be added immediately.
“After the judge issued the order, the board filed for a permit with (the Alabama Department of Environmental Management) to reintroduce fluoride into the water supply,” Hyatt said.
“That permit has not been received, but once it is, the board will issue a public notice in the newspaper and on radio stations for pediatricians, physicians, mothers of infants and young children and any other persons who may have a need or interest in knowing that fluoride has been reintroduced to the water supply,” added board attorney Claud Burke.
No one on the board indicated the reason for the change.
Arab’s water had been fluoridated since 1972, but the practice was discontinued as of August 1, 2015. Following an outcry from local dentists and other medical professionals, the city council passed a resolution in November directing the board to resume adding fluoride at the level recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, then took the matter to court in February of this year.
The board went into executive session following last week’s meeting to discuss the pending litigation of the fluoride issue.
Also Tuesday, Melissa Thrower, who has spoken publicly favoring fluoride not being added to the water, asked the board for “ideas on a pamphlet” she wanted to prepare to help educate the public on fluoride as it’s used in public drinking water, usually in the form of fluorosilic acid.
Burke told Thrower that during the litigation currently underway, “the board should not be distributing materials on the subject.”
However, anything on the Arab Water Works web site that has been posted on the issue is public information, he said.
Board member Benny Hornsby said the board “has tried to be as careful as we can to post scientific literature on this as opposed to blogger type material.”
Anyone interested can find several documents posted under the “Water Fluoridation” heading on the water works’ website, including a National Toxicology Program Study.
The board gave no timetable for reintroducing the fluoride but it could be within the next two weeks.
Arab City Attorney Rodney Edmondson told the Arab City Council Monday night that while the water board has appealed a Marshall County Circuit Court ruling to fluoridate the water to the state Supreme Court, they have also filed a counter claim seeking a judgment that the city would have to pay their attorney’s fees.
“A counter claim is the same as filing a lawsuit against the city,” he said. “In my opinion, a decision by the board to sue the city, especially one in which they will be seeking possibly $100,000 or more, should have been voted on in a public meeting but apparently that has not happened and their attorneys say it was done as a ‘litigation strategy’ and didn’t need to be discussed or voted on in a public meeting.”
Edmondson also told the council that he and his partner Jeff McLaughlin may have to move to “compel the depositions of the water works manager and board members as the water works’ attorneys are resisting allowing them to be deposed in the matter.