The issue of adding fluoride to Chippewa Falls’ drinking water is back.
Mayor Greg Hoffman has invited Jean Durch, Chippewa County’s public health director, to give a presentation at the City Council meeting Tuesday.
The council in 2004 rejected a plan to add fluoride on a 6-1 vote. However, only one of those council members – Dennis Doughty – is on the present council.
“I’m totally in favor of it,” Doughty said Tuesday, but added that he surprised the issue came up again.
“I don’t think the community will be any more in favor of it than the last time,” Doughty said.
The overwhelming community response against the measure in 2004 was among the reasons Doughty said he voted against it.
Durch said fluoridation “makes a difference in the long-term dental health of a community.” Many schools have programs for children to rinse with fluoride, but Durch she more than that is needed.
“It’s not the same as being ingested and becoming part of the tooth structure,” Durch said. “What the dental practitioners tell us, just by examining their mouths, they can predict where the children live.”
Hoffman voted against the measure in 2004, but he asked Durch to revisit the issue.
“I’m kind of neutral on the subject,” Hoffman said. “I think it should be explored.”
The issue will be discussed Tuesday under “new or unfinished business,” and the council will not vote on the matter. Hoffman said that if the council wants to have further discussion on it after hearing from Durch, it can be sent to a committee for review.
Councilman Bob Hoekstra, who is a member of the board of public health, supports the idea.
“I think it’s a great issue to bring up,” said Hoekstra, whose term ends in April. “I know it’s controversial, but it’s the right thing to do.”
Hoffman said he will ask the city engineer to determine the costs of adding fluoride.
In 2004, city reports indicated the initial cost of adding fluoride would be $209,000, with an additional $36,000 cost a year.
Chippewa Falls held a non-binding referendum in April 2004, asking city residents if they wanted fluoride added to the water, and 70 percent of voters rejected the idea. Several council members said that vote made them decide to vote against the plan later that month.
Opponents expressed concern about possible health side effects, costs of implementation, and adding another chemical to the city’s water supply.