DOVER — The Environmental Protection Agency recently released a national recommendation to lower the level of fluoride being added into community drinking water to 0.7 milligrams per liter of water. Since that time, the Garrison City has begun working toward the recommendations by lowering the level of fluoride being added into the city’s drinking water.
According to City Manager Mike Joyal, adjustments have been made to equipment in the city’s well system that processes the fluoridated water. Prior to the EPA’s recommendations, Joyal said the Garrison City added around 1 milligram of fluoride per liter of water. Beginning this week, Joyal said city officials have worked to lower that level, nearing the EPA’s recommendation.
Dover has been fluoridating the city’s drinking water since 1987. When the idea was originally proposed by Garrison City pediatrician Dr. Leonard Small, the addition of fluoride in the public water system passed by only 244 votes at a referendum. As state law requires the City Council to have the final say, councilors approved the resolution 8-1 and began fluoridating drinking water.
As word of the EPA’s recent suggestions has made its way through the Garrison City, many citizens have addressed the council regarding their concerns with fluoridating the city’s drinking water. Some have spoken for fluoridating municipal water, saying it provides those who do not have access to regular dental care with an alternative option. Many have spoken against fluoride, however, saying it is unnecessary and is ultimately harming the health of the city’s residents.
Though Joyal said city officials are making moves toward lowering levels of fluoride, he noted that a public referendum or election ballot on the matter is required by state law before any final decision can be made to completely eliminate the addition of fluoride in the city’s drinking water.
On Thursday, city staff members attended a workshop hosted by The New England Water Works Association and the N.H. Department of Environmental Services on the EPA’s recent recommendations, as well as the pros and cons of fluoridating public water systems. According to Community Services Director Doug Steele, those who attended the meeting will share their gathered information with city officials in order to continue addressing the EPA’s recommendations in a way that is suitable for the city.
Not only are Garrison City officials focused on the health benefits that may stem from lowering or eliminating the addition of fluoride in the public water supply, Joyal said they are looking into the cost savings as well. Currently, the cost of adding fluoride to the city’s public drinking water is more than $23,000 annually, according to Joyal.