If you live between Ridgway and Delta, there’s been a change to your drinking water, although you might not notice until your next dentist appointment.
Project 7 has stopped feeding fluoride into the water supply, thanks mostly to a hurricane.
Project 7 is a water authority that serves residents of the Uncompahgre River Valley.
“We fed, for 30-plus years, a sodium silica fluoride,” says Adam Turner, the Project 7 manager,” it’s a powdered form of fluoride. A lot of the fluoridation programs use an acid based product, so we were kind of unique there.
“The problem happened in hurricane Katrina, the last US facilities that made the sodium silica fluoride were damaged, and never were rebuilt,” he says.
That put them in a tough spot. There’s an organization, the NSF, that does independent testing, giving the stamp of approval for a wide range of products and chemicals. They have only one approved supplier of sodium silica fluoride. And that’s in China.
“That raised some red flags as far as the long term quality of that product,” says Turner, “whether it’s toys that get painted with lead based paint or dog treats that come out a little bit strange. We don’t want that happening with a chemical we’re putting in people’s drinking water.”
There is a manufacturer of sodium silica in Belgium, which Adam feels better about, and they have a distributor right here in Golden Colorado. They, however, aren’t listed on with the NSF.
The other option they have is to convert to an acid based program, using a liquid instead. The problem with that is the upfront cost. Proposals to switch approach $800,000, making that avenue completely off the table for Project 7. For now, the best option the Project 7 board sees is not doing anything.
“It has put us between a rock and a hard place, and that is unfortunate,” says Turner, “but we would rather not feed something that’s questionable, than feed something to everybody and put the whole population at risk because we didn’t see a different option.”
So since July, the water hasn’t been fed any fluoride. Adam is looking around and trying to figure out why the Golden company doesn’t have the stamp. For the immediate future, it looks like the water will continue to go untreated.