VALPARAISO | The city’s Utilities Board is expected to vote in two weeks on a recommendation to the council on whether Valparaiso should continue to add fluoride to the city water supply.
The board officially received the report of its fluoride commission at Tuesday’s meeting.
The commission voted 5 to 2 earlier this month in favor of continuing to fluoridate the water but to re-examine the issue again within five years. The utilities board agreed to study the report before voting on a recommendation, probably in two weeks.
Stu Walesh, who served as facilitator for the commission, told the board, “It was a very inclusive effort. Anybody who had anything to say, we tried to include them. We had 20 to 50 people for each meeting. There are 150 items, pro and con documents, that were put online so, when it is reviewed in five years, you won’t be starting from zero.”
Board President Dave Bengs, the commission chairman, said he was surprised to learn fluoridation is such a hotly debated issue around the country. He had always assumed it was just something that was done and was a closed argument.
Board Member Mark Thiros, who served as the commission’s vice chairman, was one of two to vote against continuing the use of fluoride.
“A lot of people don’t want it, and, if it is in the water, they don’t have a choice,” Thiros said.
The city’s water has a small amount of fluoride occurring naturally, and the city adds a similar amount to bring the level up to what is recommended by the Indiana State Board of Health for preventing tooth decay. It is only a recommendation of the ISBH and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and no one is mandated to use it.
While the cost to the utility is about 60 cents per person per year, Thiros said he questioned whether the utility is the proper conduit for dispensing fluoride when it is available in toothpaste, from the dentist and other sources.
Bengs said Dallas and Portland, Ore., have recently debated the issue. European cities don’t use it, but he said they don’t have similar water distribution systems to those in the U.S. and they get fluoride in milk, bread and other items.
The towns of Kouts and Hebron have discontinued fluoridation for monetary reasons, while Lowell has so much naturally occurring fluoride it had to remove it prior to switching to Lake Michigan water.
The final decision will be up to the City Council.