BEAVERTON — Voter-approved fluoridation of Beaverton’s water supply, expected to start by March 31, will spill over to neighboring Tigard from the two cities’ common water supplier.
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Tom Ramisch, Beaverton’s engineering director, said Tigard officials have been informed that water that their city buys from the Joint Water Commission would be treated by Beaverton’s fluoridation process.
By a 53-to-47 ratio last year, Beaverton voters approved fluoridating city water piped to about 55,000 of the city’s 79,000 residents. Backed by dental and other health organizations, the move was opposed by others who said they feared fluoride at one part per million would involve health risks.
Tigard officials have voiced no opposition to fluoridation coming into their city’s water, Ramisch said. Tigard city officials did not return telephone calls on Tuesday seeking comment.
Beaverton relays about 4 million gallons of water a day to Tigard from the joint consortium that controls water from Hagg Lake, southwest of Forest Grove. With Tigard as a customer, the consortium comprises Beaverton, Hillsboro, Forest Grove, the Tualatin Valley Water District and Clean Water Services.
Gordon Martin, a Tigard resident and an elected commissioner of the Tualatin Valley district who in the past has questioned the safety of water fluoridation, promised Ramisch and Beaverton City Council members that “there’ll be some discussion about it” in his city.
Martin and other water district commissioners met Monday night with the Beaverton council in an informal session to discuss several topics, including the city’s progress in fluoridating its water supply.
Richard Burke, president of the Tualatin Valley commissioners’ board, said his panel is considering polling district residents about fluoridation as part of its periodic customer-satisfaction survey planned next month. The board held a lengthy session late last year to hear from fluoridation opponents as well as proponents.
The Tualatin Valley district has about 179,000 residents, including some inside Beaverton. The district serves northern parts of the city and unincorporated Washington County on three sides of Beaverton, plus parts of Hillsboro and Tigard.
The district fluoridates water in its northern and western sections.
In its regular session that followed the Monday night meeting, the Beaverton council approved Ramisch’s recommendation that the city adopt sodium fluoride injections — the same process used by Tualatin Valley — as its means of fluoridation.
Ramisch said a special bidding process to assure that all potential bidders would be qualified to do the installation work, approved by the council last month, had drawn interest from several firms. He said he planned to close the bidding Dec. 4 and award the work Dec. 15.
Work could begin before Christmas, with completion targeted for March, the engineer said.
The city has spent about $300,000 on preparatory work, including hiring a consulting firm. It will spend another $600,000 on the construction, including refurbishment of a building to house the process near Southwest 209th Avenue and Tualatin Valley Highway.
All the spending will be financed by the city’s Water Fund, which is fed by revenues from water operations.
David Leland, who heads the state of Oregon’s drinking-water regulatory program, told councilors on Monday that fluoridation is “one of the best public health measures a community can undertake.”
Leland said Beaverton would join about 40 other water agencies across Oregon by providing the water treatment. He said that accounted for about 23 percent of the state’s population, still lower than the national average of 70 percent.
Speaking in opposition to the move, Rich Crimi, a Beaverton resident, told councilors he had recently found four news stories on the Internet asserting, among other things, that drinking fluoridated water caused children to have lower intelligence quotients and that malformed fetuses resulted from fluoridation.