The city of Fort Smith announced Wednesday that it will begin fluoridating its drinking water Monday.
“Fluoridation of drinking water is for the purpose of promoting public health and preventing tooth decay,” a news release from the city states. “The city will feed fluoride at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended level of 0.7 mg/L to provide public health benefits while preventing fluorosis of teeth and bones.”
In 2014, 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. Later, an amendment to the grant bumped it up to $2 million
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.
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.
To meet the grant conditions, Fort Smith has until March 16 to begin feeding fluoride into the water supply.
The city of Greenwood began fluoridating its drinking water last year using a $124,000 grant from Delta Dental for startup costs.
More than 70 percent of the city’s water is purchased from the James Fork Regional Water District, which already fluoridates, but the amount of fluoride when mixed with the city’s own water was previously not enough to meet state standards.