A plan to add fluoride to the municipal drinking water in Chippewa Falls was shot down again Tuesday night.
The council voted 5-2 to take no action on a recommendation to add the chemical to the water supply, killing the measure. Several council members said the cost for adding fluoride – $209,000 in upfront installation and $36,000 a year, according to a five-year-old study – was just too much with the city and state facing budget restraints.
Council members Susan Zukowski, Brian Flynn, Jack Covill, Greg Dachel and Jason Anderson voted to take no action, with council members Dennis Doughty and Bob Hoekstra dissenting.
In 2004 the council also rejected adding fluoride on a 6-1 vote. Dentist Kent Vandehaar worked on the recommendation that went before the council in 2004, and he told the council Tuesday that fluoride is safe to consume and beneficial for teeth.
“The number of kids I’ve treated over 28 years, it’s astounding the amount of dental decay in this town,” Vandehaar said.
The 2004 study also found no evidence that fluoride harms the body in any way, he said.
Vandehaar said he wasn’t surprised by the vote, noting a citywide referendum in 2004 showed that 70 percent of residents voted against fluoridation.
“What’s ironic is there is chlorine in the (drinking) water, and that’s because of public health,” Vandehaar said.
Jean Durch, Chippewa County public health director, urged the council to look at the benefits.
“If you are from Eau Claire, you’re teeth are better off than if you are from Chippewa Falls – that’s what I hear anecdotally,” Durch told the council.
Durch said fluoridation is widely considered to be among the 10 best public health advances of the 20th century, and she noted that 89.7 percent of Wisconsin residents are served by community water systems with fluoride, including Eau Claire, Stanley and Cornell.
City resident Karen Polzin spoke against the measure. She was pleased the council rejected fluoridation.
“I can’t even see why it would be brought up,” Polzin said after the meeting. “I don’t feel the city should be medicating its residents.”
Polzin said she’s glad the council didn’t waste any taxpayer money to further study the issue.
“There seems to be more and more information out there against fluoridation for health reasons,” Polzin said.