COLDWATER — Before the end of the year, Coldwater will have fluoride in its water.
City Manager Bill Stewart urged the council to allow the public utility to go ahead with a permit and then purchase the equipment.
“It’s the right thing to do,” he said.
A controversial issue in the 1950’s, it was voted down then and again in the 1970’s. Again, it was discussed in the 1980’s but the city took no action.
Board of Public Utilities General Manager Paul Beckhusen noted 6.3 million people in the state now have fluoride in their water, while 120 communities in Michigan have natural fluoride.
“It’s a cost effective way to prevent tooth decay,” area dental society president Dr. Christopher Mathews said, adding that the mineral destroys tooth decay bacteria and strengthens younger teeth.
Grand Rapids was the first city to add fluoride to its water 60 years ago. All the studies showed there were no side effects.
Asked why there had been so much opposition in the pass, Beckhusen said many thought fluoride in water “was a communist plot.”
Councilman Bob Huntley opposed the plan.
“This came up way too suddenly. This is a very serious issue. Hold off a couple of weeks to study it,” he suggested.
Because of pressure to keep from increasing water and sewer rates in the future, Beckhusen scaled back plans to improve the water and sewer system with a new bond issue.
“The items we have left are the ones we have to do,” he said.
A planned $2.5 million bond was reduced to $1.2 million. Nearly $1 million in water system improvements and $250,000 in sewer system improvements will be put off. Left are expansions required by the state for the wastewater plant.
The electrical bond issue also was reduced to $2.315 million. No electrical rate increases will be needed for those projects.