Gilbert may have lost its standing as the last major Valley municipality not to fluoridate its water, but residents aren’t likely to get the cavity-fighting chemical through their taps until late next year.
Councilman Dave Crozier said it will take months to install and test fluoridation equipment, and he predicts it will cost more than the anticipated $150,000 for equipment and $30,000 a year for chemicals if the town hires experts to oversee it.
In the meantime, anti-fluoride activists aren’t ready to let their battle go down the drain.
“We’re still analyzing our options,” opponent Daryl Colvin said Wednesday after voters approved fluoride. “How much time and money and energy we’re willing to put into it, I don’t know yet. But I’ll be fighting this for the rest of my life.”
That doesn’t surprise Dan Pottenger, who has been pushing Gilbert to fluoridate in the name of dental health for more than two years.
“These people were never interested in a public vote,” Pottenger said of the opposition. “They’re true anti-fluoridationists.They just want to stop it.”
Gilbert voters approved fluoride by 54 percent with a vote of 14,983 to 12,623.
It failed in four of the town’s 26 precincts, including those around Baseline and Gilbert roads where Colvin and other activists live.
The issue was put on the ballot after the Town Council approved fluoridation April 25 and a resident referendum forced the vote. Gilbert was one of several municipalities across the country putting fluoride to a vote this week, the largest being San Antonio and Spokane, Wash. Voters in San Antonio approved the measure; it lost in Spokane.
Crozier, who cast the lone dissenting council vote, said he now fears chemical-sensitive residents will be forced to move out of town.
The large number of voters who said “no” to fluoride are an indication the chemical isn’t as popular as the majority of the Town Council thought, Crozier said.
“I wasn’t thrilled about the closeness of the vote,” Pottenger said. “But it was legal and decisive. I was always concerned that the arguments being raised against it were irrational.”
Whether the vote will bring more business to Gilbert companies that install home water purification systems is uncertain. Joyce Crissman, owner of Ecowater in Gilbert, said she personally opposes fluoridation but most of her customers are more concerned about the bad taste and odor of town water.
Colvin, who is in the business of repairing water treatment equipment, said most of his customers treat their water for taste, not fluoride.
“But if they want to get fluoride out of more than drinking water – like the shower and the swimming pool – it will cost people about $10,000 and that deeply violates peoples’ rights,” he said.