Using a $124,000 grant, the city of Greenwood plans to fluoridate its drinking water soon as mandated by the state.
Steve Ratterree, chairman of the city’s new water/wastewater commission, said the plan is to begin fluoridating the city’s drinking water by the first of April.
“There’s probably a few people who won’t be happy about it,” Ratterree said. “But what we’re going to try to explain to them is it’s one of those things the state is mandating. We have no control over it.”
Greenwood serves nearly 9,000 water customers, according to wastewater department director Greg Cross. In 2011, state legislators passed a law requiring water systems serving 5,000 or more customers to fluoridate their public water when funding became available.
Like other communities, Greenwood received its funding through the Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation after a year-long wait. The $124,000 grant covers startup costs associated with adding fluoride to the city’s water system.
Ratterree said residents will be notified “because we want to make sure the public is aware fluoride is coming their way.”
Roughly half of the city’s water is purchased from the James Fork Regional Water District, which already fluoridates, Cross said.
“We also make water, so the fluoride they are already sending is not quite enough when it mixes with our water,” Cross said. “So there is some fluoride in it, but we’ll get it up to what Delta Dental and everybody considers the correct amount.”
The fluoridation law, Act 197, affects 34 Arkansas water systems, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. The city of Fort Smith is preparing to fluoridate its drinking water in early 2016, City Administrator Ray Gosack said.
In August, the Fort Smith Board of Directors accepted a $1.8 million grant from Delta Dental for the fluoridation effort at the city’s two water treatment plants. Fort Smith is the largest city in the state without fluoridated water. City voters turned down fluoridation twice in popular votes in the 1970s and in 1992.