Issues of water treatment and nitrates won’t be included in one of three questions regarding fluoride that will appear on the November election ballot.
On Monday, the Hastings City Council voted against bringing a discussion from the table about amending the ballot question regarding fluoridation of the city’s water supply.
The ballot question, as approved June 22, asks voters to decide if they want to adopt or reject an ordinance to prohibit the addition of fluoride to the city’s water supply.
At the Aug. 11 council meeting, Councilman Phil Odom suggested a second sentence be added to the ballot language stating that if fluoridation was not prohibited, it would not be added until the centralized water treatment facility is built.
The proposed centralized treatment facility is a Hastings Utilities project that may be needed in the future to treat water for the increasing nitrate levels.
The HU Board of Public Works responded to Odom’s suggestion at its Aug. 14 meeting when it recommended that the language state that fluoride would be added once HU starts to treat the water for nitrates. This would mean fluoride could be added prior to the building of the new treatment plant.
During Monday’s meeting, Bob Samuelson, who has spoke out against fluoride on numerous occasions, again spoke on the issue saying that nitrates and water treatment should not be included in the ballot language.
He said fluoride shouldn’t be tied to a $15 million to $20 million water treatment plant, when the cost of fluoridation is much less.
Marvin “Butch” Hughes, chairman of the local chapter of Nebraskans for Safe Water, also spoke during Monday’s meeting in which he referred to his letter in Monday’s Tribune.
He said a treatment facility likely will not even be needed because farmers are using safer practices and the levels of nitrates in the water supply should stabilize and go down, not up as HU predicts. For that reason, Hughes said the city shouldn’t attach nitrates and the water treatment plant to fluoridation.
City attorney Bob Sullivan told the council that the ballot language would appear on the ballot as approved in June if it was not brought from the table.
After the council voted not to bring the discussion from the table, Councilwoman Kathy Peterson asked what would happen if voters had conflicting answers to the two similar ballot questions about the banning of fluoride. A second question addressing prohibition of fluoride was put on the ballot by petition through Hughes’ group.
Sullivan said he believed that if the citizens sent a conflicting message by answering the two questions differently then the state law would prevail and fluoridation would be required.
However, he said he could not confirm that at the time and would give the council a definite answer in the future.
Later in the meeting, the council unanimously approved verifying that enough signatures had been collected and approved for the two petition questions to appear on the November ballot.
The third question that will appear on the ballot regarding fluoridation states, “Shall an ordinance establishing quality criteria for water additives intended to treat or prevent disease in humans, and requiring specific public disclosures for accountability, transparency, compliance with law, and conformance to industry standards, be added to the municipal code of the city of Hastings?”
The general election is Nov. 4.