The city of Parsons will get $35,000 to restart its fluoridation program at the water treatment plant.
City Manager Debbie Lamb announced during the city commission’s Monday evening meeting that the National Association of County and City Health Officials will give the city the grant. Lamb said the city staff had just learned about the grant award earlier in the day.
The city discontinued the decades-long practice of adding fluoride at the water treatment plant in 2013 because of corrosion in piping at the point where fluoride and caustic soda were added. The city later replaced the elbow pipe where the corrosion occurred and continued adding caustic soda, which is necessary, but never re-introduced fluoride, which promotes healthy teeth and is supported by several dental and medical associations but is not mandated by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
After weeks of discussion and debate, the commission voted unanimously in November 2013 to contract with engineering firm CH2M Hill to create engineering plans to relocate the injection sites for fluoride and caustic soda. The city staff didn’t present the cost estimates of the plan until a January 2016 meeting.
The commission learned that CH2M Hill recommended the fluoride feed be moved to the top of a head tank. The injection pump would need to be maintained by water plant workers, so CH2M Hill suggested that the city add a catwalk leading to the tank for safety. Otherwise, employees would have to climb a ladder to the top of the tank.
While the cost of the fluoride feed system was estimated at $66,500, the price of the elevated walkway was estimated at $76,000, bringing the total to restart the fluoride program to $142,500, according to the CH2M Hill report. Lamb said on Tuesday the city staff is still using those estimates.
The city commission decided not to pursue the fluoride program because of the high costs and other priorities, but a KDHE official told the city about the grant program early this year, and the commission agreed to apply for a grant.
The NACCHO denied the city’s first grant application in April, but the city reapplied, barely making the deadline because city staff wasn’t notified of the new round of funding until late in the process.
“It was just by accident that we got it in on time,” Lamb said Monday.
Lamb said Tuesday to the best of her knowledge the project must be complete by June 30, but the city staff still is trying to clarify if the work must be done by then or just bid out.
There had been opposition from several people in the community when the city commission discussed the fluoridation program in 2013, and eventually a group was formed to fight fluoridation, but recently only one person had objected publicly to the idea.
*Original article online at http://www.parsonssun.com/news/article_d7a7f704-e547-11e7-af69-2b4763d935d6.html