Fluoridating the city’s water supply could cost more than $1 million in the first year if its implemented before the water treatment facility is built.
That’s the news Marty Stange, a civil/environmental engineer with Hastings Utilities, delivered to HU’s Board of Public Works during its meeting Thursday.
In mid-April, the Nebraska Legislature approved LB245, which now requires all communities with more than 1,000 people to fluoridate their water supply.
The Hastings City Council gave its support of the bill in March and directed the HU board to present the council with updated cost estimates and logistics information about the implementation of citywide fluoridation.
At that time, the council agreed that it would probably be best for the city to wait on adding fluoride until the city’s water treatment facility is built, especially if it is more cost efficient.
During Thursday’s meeting, Stange presented the board will all the cost numbers. It would cost HU $1,089,800 in start up costs to set up and inject fluoride into the city’s water supply at 24 different wells. The annual operation and maintenance cost would be $91,700.
He emphasized that this cost did not include the cost that may be incurred in putting the fluoridation equipment into some of the smaller well houses that could effect with other well equipment.
In comparison, the start up costs for injecting fluoride at two centralized points, including the future water treatment center, would cost $317,700. The annual operation and maintenance costs would be about $32,700.
HU has plans ready and land purchased to build a centralized water treatment facility to deal with the nitrate levels that are slowly increasing in the city’s water supply.
This morning, HU manager Marv Schultes said the fluoride would be injected at the water treatment facility to be built on North Baltimore Avenue and the well in the Westbrook Subdivision.
He said the well at Westbrook would be injected because the elevation of Westbrook requires a well out there to maintain water pressure in that part of the system.
After the discussion Thursday, the board agreed to forward the cost estimates onto the City Council as it had requested in March.
Schultes said this morning he had no timeline on when the city’s water treatment facility would be built.
“It will be a major expenditure and will be driven by the nitrate issue,” he said. “Nitrates continue to rise.”
In previous meetings, Schultes said the treatment facility would be needed within the next 10 years, if not sooner.
While the City Council previously said it would rather wait for treatment facility, there is still question as to when the fluoride will be put into the system.
The legislative bill indicates that communities must add the water by no later than June 1, 2010. However, Schultes said there was some question about the law because it said communities have up until that date to hold a special election to prohibit the addition of fluoride.
“A logical person would say you’d have to have some time after that to fluoridate the water,” he said. “That was talked about at the board level but it is probably going to be a legal and political issue.”
The City Council will review this information at a future meeting.
The city of Hastings last considered adding fluoride into the water in 1974 when residents soundly defeated a measure to add fluoride to the water supply. However, the current council is in favor of adding fluoride to the water at this time.