CLEARWATER — The water fluoridation equipment at the Pinellas County water treatment plant has been idle for more than a year, but at 12:01 Friday morning, it was turned back on.
You can’t see or taste the fluoride in your water, but the next time you turn on your tap, you’ll be getting a minuscule dose of it from your faucet.
“It’s chemical name is hydrofluoroslicic acid, it’s a mouthful, and it’s a liquid form,” Plant Operations Manager Laurence Trepany said.
Fluoride has been the source of a lot of recent controversy in Pinellas County. County commissioners voted to stop the fluoridation of water in 2011. Commissioners turned around and voted weeks ago to put it back in.
The county says the level of fluoride will be adjusted to a level recommended for optimal dental health.
“What Pinellas County has done is, we’ve improved our selection process of suppliers and we now have a supply this is actually from Spain, it’s absolutely pure,” said Trepany.
Those in favor of fluoride say it helps keep tooth decay and dental costs down. Those against it say they don’t want the government making their medical decisions.
As the debate continues, the fluoride flows again.
The County says you will not see a water rate increase, that’s because the equipment is already in place and maintenance and repairs will be absorbed into current operating costs, an average of about 25-cents per person per year.
Pinellas County isn’t the only community to flip the switch on fluoride. Plant City also started including the additive in its drinking water supply for the first time on Friday.