SCHUYLKILL HAVEN – The borough will stop adding fluoride to its water supply after a motion to keep adding the chemical was defeated at Wednesday’s borough council meeting.
“I think we’re doing an injustice by taking it out for our young people,” council President Marlin W. Berger Jr. said.
Marlin Berger, who was the only council member to speak Wednesday about his stance on the motion, said larger cities, such as Reading and Philadelphia, use fluoride in their water supply.
The borough will save about $10,000, he said, but added alternatives such as fluoride treatment by dentists are very expensive. Marlin Berger acknowledged there is debate over the effectiveness of fluoride in preventing tooth decay, but said the practice has been successful in Schuylkill Haven.
“Our forefathers back in the ’60s were able to put this in … I think we’ve had very few complaints with this over the years,” Marlin Berger said.
In a telephone interview after the meeting, Marlin Berger said borough administrator Scott Graver brought the issue to council’s attention.
According to the Pennsylvania Rural Water Association, Marlin Berger said, not all state municipalities add fluoride to their water, and removing the chemical could cut costs.
The motion to continue adding fluoride to the borough water supply failed to pass in a 3-4 vote. Marlin Berger, Donald Gerber and Paul Bedway voted in favor while Carl Berger, Jerry Bowman, Michael Devlin and Roger Spotts voted against adding fluoride to the water.
Graver said there will be no immediate change, as the borough must go through the process of changing its permit with the Department of Environmental Protection before it alters its water fluoridation practices.
The next borough council meeting will start a half-hour earlier than normal because of Ash Wednesday. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. Feb. 17 in council chambers at the Schuylkill Haven Senior Center, 340 Haven St.