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Some Middletown residents may be forced to find other sources of fluoride, as the town considers whether to foot the bill to provide fluoride through the town’s drinking water.
In 2015, the town learned that certain areas, specifically the Brookridge South and Glenbrook subdivisions, do not receive the recommended levels of fluoride in their water supply. The two subdivisions include about 450 homes.
Those residents are receiving fluoride that is naturally in the water, but it’s not the amount recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The town has three water treatment facilities: the town reservoir, which is the town’s primary water source, the Brookridge Water Treatment Plant and the water treatment facility at the town’s No. 15 well. The reservoir is the only facility that provides fluoride to the town.
The town planned to have fluoride injection systems installed this year and budgeted $60,000 for the project. But there is no room to install the system at the well, because the town installed an iron and manganese removal system earlier this year. So the town would have to pay $30,000 to build an addition that would allow the town to put in the fluoride injection system.
The town could proceed immediately with putting in the fluoride system at the Brookridge plant. But the original thought was to do both or neither, Town Administrator Drew Bowen said.
The town postponed a vote on the issue at Thursday’s town meeting because of the absences of Burgess John Miller and Commissioner Jennifer Falcinelli, who heads the water and sewer committee.
“I know Jennifer has some concerns about this,” said Town Commissioner Larry Bussard.
Adding fluoride to tap water can help reduce cavities in children, but Bowen said it’s not essential to provide it to residents.
“Fluoride is something that is available through numerous other sources,” Bowen said.
Maintaining the fluoride injection system would cost $5,000 to $7,000 a year per facility, Bowen said.
Commissioner Richard Dietrick noted that the town would have to increase residents’ water bills even more than normal if the town chose to provide fluoride at each facility.
“We already have to raise water bills every year with no end in sight,” Dietrick said. “Now you’re talking about at least a 1 percent increase just to cover the costs of this on top of the other increases.”
Bowen said the town looked at other water facilities in Maryland and said 96 percent of them supply fluoride to residents…