City Manager John Gabor said Tetra Tech workers shutdown the system the end of April when they found it to be faulty.
“It could be poisonous if levels got too high,” he said. “With chlorine, you would know it if it was over-treated, but with fluoride, you wouldn’t be able to detect it.”
Terry Filo, office manager for Beauchamp, Gauss and Gschwind Dental in Marine City, found out about the change in city water when a distressed patient shared the news.
“I had a patient who went ballistic on me,” she said. “He lives in the city. He said they’d stopped putting fluoride in the water in April. He was upset about it.”
To put parents’ minds at ease, she recommends giving their children a fluoride supplement. The American Dental Association recommends fluoride treatment to help prevent cavities.
“You can buy a fluoride rinse like ACT or the Kmart brand that is just as good until this is corrected by the city,” she said.
Gabor said research showed the current system was installed in the 1960s and is no longer safe to use.
“Each municipality made its own decision back in the ’60s to put it in,” he said. “Now it’s 40 years old.”
Mayor Bob Lepley said he believes the precautions are in order, although he admitted that until the water quality report came out at the Nov. 5 commission meeting, he wasn’t aware of the decision.
“It was a lack of information,” he said. “It did come out here and we’ll deal with it. Because of the dangers involved we would rather err on the side of safety, doing our due diligence on this.”
Lepley said he is in the process of researching the pros and cons of municipal fluoridation, realizing there are “arguments on both sides.” In the meantime, he also recommends that citizens purchase an additive.
“There are over-the-counter things available that are rather inexpensive, if you’re on the positive side of fluoride,” he said. “We use one in our home.”
Gabor said Tetra Tech will put a proposal together for the commission, detailing the costs involved in replacing the system early next year.
“Then they’ll have to decide if they should make a capitol investment for it,” he said, adding the process is not required by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
In a recent report from Tetra Tech on operations at the water treatment plant, it states:
“The following tasks will be performed in the near future: provide complete information on options and associated costs to resume fluoridation in compliance with MDEQ recommended practices for fluoride application (and) develop a capital improvement plan.”