MELBOURNE — The city of Melbourne will maintain status quo and continue fluoridating drinking water for roughly 170,000 residents across southern Brevard County.
But City Hall staffers will research costs, logistics and feasibility of a future fluoride referendum — which would go before voters in Melbourne, West Melbourne, Melbourne Beach, Indialantic, Indian Harbour Beach, Satellite Beach, Palm Shores, Melbourne Village and unincorporated Brevard County south of the Pineda Causeway.
During a 4-hour special meeting Thursday night, the Melbourne City Council voted 6-1 to keep fluoridating water, despite testimony from a group of anti-fluoride activists and Space Coast residents. Mark LaRusso cast the lone no vote.
We’ve had 70 years of the best available scientific evidence that has consistently indicated that community water fluoridation is safe and effective. It has been endorsed by numerous organizations, like the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Dental Association, the CDC, Mayo Clinic and World Health Organization,” Vice Mayor Debbie Thomas said.
“I think the fact that all of these organizations have come forward and said they totally agree with water fluoridation, and that we should continue having it, is a pretty big statement,” Thomas said.
The Brevard County Dental Society encouraged dentists, hygienists and dental assistants to wear scrubs to the meeting and support fluoridation.
Satellite Beach City Manager Courtney Barker and Indian Harbour Beach City Manager Mark Ryan also sat in the audience.
Melbourne started fluoridated drinking water in 1966, as recommended by the Florida State Board of Health. Since then, city officials have relied on research and positions of the Centers for Disease Control, American Dental Association and World Health Organization, City Manager Shannon Lewis said.
Erin Brockovich, the environmental activist who was portrayed by Julia Roberts in her 2000 namesake movie, spotlighted the upcoming Melbourne City Council meeting in a Facebook post last week.
“No Community Drinking Water System should ever be used to distribute any substance for the purpose of achieving a medical result! It is WRONG and IMMORAL,” Brockovich wrote Friday.