The Ozark Mountain Regional Public Water Authority board is set to meet Thursday night in Valley Springs and chairman Andy Anderson hopes more members show up and contribute toward the appeal of the authority’s fluoridation lawsuit.
Act 197 of 2011 required all water systems serving 5,000 people or more to add fluoride to drinking water. The authority appealed the state Department of Health’s mandate that it also fluoridate water because it technically sells water to 18 rural water systems in Boone, Newton and Searcy counties and none of those individual systems serves 5,000 people.
In a decision handed down after a court hearing on March 7, 14th Judicial Circuit Judge Andrew Bailey ruled that the law requiring fluoridation did apply to the water authority.
The authority is in the process of appealing that decision, but Anderson said in a message that the authority was still far short of the $7,500 needed for the appeal.
He said it was his understanding that five of the 18 water systems have all contributed $500, Ozark Haven Realty had contributed $1,000 more than what they had previously and the system operators have all contributed $150 each in order to avoid handling fluoride.
“We will accept any amounts from you personally or your water system,” Anderson said in the message.
In mid-March, state Sen. Bob Ballinger (R-Berryville) filed a bill that would have raised the threshold for fluoridation from 5,000 customers to 15,000 customers.
While that wouldn’t have had any effect of the Ozark Mountain system, Anderson had hoped an amendment might be filed that would require fluoridation only if all water systems served voted in favor of fluoridation.
However, records show the bill did not come out of the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee with any recommendations or amendments.
The authority board is set to meet at 6 p.m. Thursday at Valley Springs City Hall. Anderson encourages the public, especially water customers, to attend the meeting.
“Anyone who wishes to speak will be given a three-minute time allotment,” Anderson said in the statement. “Bring ideas, ask questions, and be informed.”