HOT SPRINGS — The Ouachita Water Treatment Plant is adding fluoride to Hot Springs’ water supply.
Plant workers began the process Monday. Arkansas Department of Health officials helped “calibrate our devices to make sure they were in range with theirs,” said Larry Merriman, major capital projects manager for the city.
Act 197 of 2011 requires certain municipalities, based on population, to use fluoride in the water-treatment process. Based on this requirement, the city’s Ouachita Water Treatment Plant implemented a project to install the required equipment to introduce the fluoride into the treated water.
Taylor Gates, the plant’s facility manager, said the initial amount of fluoride being added to the water is very low.
“We’re just feeding a very small amount right now, and the residual is not up to what they are calling for at this time. Our optimum level is supposed to be 0.7 mg/L. We’re feeding a low amount right now and watching it very closely, trying to get a stable reading.
“During all the rain events, the lake got pretty stirred up and it appeared as though there was a natural residual in the raw water. That’s why we’re just feeding a small amount right now and not shooting for the optimum amount,” he said.
Gates said water released through Blakely Mountain Dam into the river channel at the north end of Lake Hamilton has been clearing the channel, and as it clears up, the naturally occurring fluoride in the raw water is being reduced.
“It looks to me like when we have one of these rain events, and you get all this runoff water, the river channel gets real muddy and there is some natural fluoride present in the water. So we’re just taking it real slow right now because we don’t want to risk overfeeding, and we’re just looking for it to stabilize,” he said.
Gates said alarm systems and automatic shut-offs will be installed to prevent the plant exceeding the optimum amount during heavy rain.
Information regarding the inclusion of fluoride in the water system will be printed in the notes section of January utility bills and publicized through local news media, social media and the city website.