PLANT CITY — The city has agreed to fluoridate the municipal water supply to aid the community’s dental health.
The city is receiving $386,000 in grants from the Florida Department of Health and county health department to pay for the fluoridation equipment and other costs. The city expects to have the fluoridation system in operation in 12 to 18 months.
The city has talked about fluoridating the water supply for years.
Commissioner Mike Sparkman said Plant City is one of the few cities in Florida that doesn’t already fluoridate its water.
“This latest study to fluoridate our drinking water started in 2009,” Sparkman said. “We looked at it 10 years before that and narrowly defeated the program. I say it is about time this initiative has been approved for our residents. It’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it.”
The grants will pay to construct and operate the fluoridation system for the first two years. Starting in the third year, the city will pay ongoing operating and maintenance costs estimated at about $50,000 each year.
Frank Coughenour, director of the city water department, said the city’s water, drawn from four deep wells, naturally contains about half the recommended level of fluoride.
Coughenour estimates the city would need to add about 10 gallons of fluoride to the 5 million gallons of water pumped to residential and business customers each day to bring it up to optimal fluoride levels.
Commissioner Bill Dodson said he was glad that the city was moving forward with fluoridation.
“The funding provided for the state Department of Health allows us to get into this program with very little initial expense and no capital costs. We really do need to catch up,” Dodson said. “This is a very worthy service for us to provide for our community.”
Dentists have long advocated adding fluoride, common in toothpaste, to the water supply to prevent tooth decay. Members of the health department and West Coast District Dental Association have met with the city to advocate fluoridation of the water.