A bill has been introduced in the Georgia General Assembly that would make it easier for communities to opt out of mandatory fluoridation of drinking water.
The Coweta County Water and Sewerage Authority discussed the fluoridation bill and other current legislation at Friday’s authority meeting.
HB 129 would allow the governing authority of cities or counties to call for a referendum on stopping fluoridation – the addition of fluoride compounds to drinking water to prevent tooth decay.
Under current law, it takes a petition signed by 10 percent of the registered voters in the city or county who voted in the last general election to call a referendum on the fluoridation issue.
Fluoridation of public drinking water supplies is required by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
The allowed fluoride range is .7 to 1 milligrams per liter, said Allen Sibley, human resources chief. The water the authority produces at the B.T. Brown Water Treatment Plant has a level of .82 mg/liter, Sibley said, and the water the authority buys from Griffin is roughly the same.
The water the authority buys from Newnan Utilities has a level of .8 mg/liter. “Our position is, I think, that we follow the law,” said Chairman Neal Shepard. “Whatever the law says that is what we do, and that is not our job to make that policy. That is what is handled by the state or federal environmental regulation folks.”
Authority member Eric Smith said he always thought fluoridation was a federal mandate and was surprised that states could have different regulations on fluoridation.
HB 129 is authored by Rep. David Stover, R-Palmetto. The bill has been assigned to the House Governmental Affairs Committee, but no action on it has been taken. Stover could not be reached for comment.