DELAWARE, Ohio — After 31 years, city residents are one step closer to getting cavity-fighting fluoride added to their water supply.
The City Council unanimously approved fluoridation this week.
Still, residents will have to wait at least 27 days before it’s a sure thing.
Sept. 13 is the filing deadline for a Nov. 7 referendum that would challenge the ordinance, and local fluoridation opponent John Yiammouyiannis has vowed to file petitions.
“I’m going to guide the people of Delaware,” said Yiammouyiannis, a biochemist who lives outside city limits — in Liberty Township — and contends that adding fluoride to drinking water causes cancer and other ailments.
There must be 677 valid signatures to place the referendum on the ballot, said Kim Spangler, deputy director of the Delaware County Board of Elections.
City Manager Thomas Homan said he would be surprised if a referendum petition drive was successful.
“We held three readings on the ordinance,” Homan said. “There was ample opportunity for public participation and we heard some pretty compelling testimony for fluoridation.
“At the last reading (on Monday), the three people who spoke weren’t even city residents.”
In 1969, Ohio lawmakers mandated adding fluoride to municipal water supplies, unless cities opted out.
Delaware residents voted against fluoridation in 1970. In 1983, the City Council rejected a second bid for fluoridation.
Delaware is one of 25 cities statewide without fluoridated water.
Nearly 77 percent of Ohioans use fluoridated water, according to Ohio Department of Health statistics.
Delaware councilman David Godsil, who introduced the fluoridation measure in the spring, said he’s confident the city will go ahead with fluoridation.
“It’s (Yiammouyiannis’) right to file it,” Godsil said of a referendum. “But what I’ve heard from people is vastly more supportive than negative.”
Godsil said he’s more concerned with properly implementing fluoridation.
“We have to buy some new pumps. Annually, this will cost the city about $7,000.”
Another concern, Godsil said, is making sure residents don’t get too much fluoride.
Many local doctors routinely prescribe vitamins with fluoride for young patients.
“We have to get the word out to doctors around here who are prescribing fluoride supplements,” Godsil said.
“We don’t want there to be any overlap.”