Some Newton County officials are protesting a state law that requires regional water systems to add fluoride to their water supply.
The Quorum Court this month unanimously adopted a resolution opposing Act 197 of 2011, which requires water systems to fluoridate water. The county supports repeal of the act, the resolution states.
“Instead of them forcing it on all the water systems, [the Quorum Court] wanted each water system to make up their own mind about whether they wanted the fluoride or not,” Newton County’s County Judge Warren Campbell said. “I’m hoping they don’t put it in our water system.”
Act 197 mandates that water systems supplying populations of 5,000 or more participate in a statewide fluoridation program. The program requires the water systems to maintain a fluoride concentration of between 0.6 milligrams per liter and 1.2 milligrams per liter.
The Ozark Mountain Regional Public Water Authority supplies water to 18 water utilities in Boone, Marion, Newton and Searcy counties that, combined, serve about 22,000 people.
State regulations do not require fluoridation until water systems have enough money from grants to pay for the startup costs and fluoridation equipment, said Jeff Stone, director of the engineering section of the Arkansas Department of Health. All water systems subject to the requirements of Act 197 are obtaining grant money from Delta Dental, except for the Ozark Mountain authority.
The Health Department has given Ozark Mountain more time to comply while the water authority resolves a contract dispute with the city of Marshall, Stone said. Of the 35 water systems that were subject to the new law, 13 are fluoridating their water. The department has approved construction plans for another 14 systems, three systems have construction plans under review and five have yet to submit plans…