ASHLAND — The town has been drawing water from Southborough since late September, and since, a concern has trickled to the surface several times: water in Southborough has fluoride, and Ashland doesn’t, per a decade-old Town Meeting vote.
The town has drawn 200,000 gallons or less on a handful of days to replenish drying wells as the state reels from extreme drought conditions. The Hopkinton Reservoir, where Ashland draws its water supply, is still about two feet below an acceptable level.
The fluoride issue came up most recently at the Board of Health meeting Thursday when two residents brought up the emergency connection and Southborough water quality.
The fluoride debate
The medical community agrees that fluoridation of public water supplies, at appropriate levels, is both safe and healthy for teeth, but some feel fluoridation may cause health problems. Those opposed feel the benefits are also overstated.
Will the Southborough fluoride have an impact?
Water Department General Foreman Roy Correia said the fluoride from Southborough won’t have any affect, good or bad, on Ashland water.
The amount the town draws from Southborough is too miniscule, he said. The town draws on average 1.9 million gallons a day, and has several times drawn from Southborough to meet that demand.
The level of fluoride in Southborough, according to the most recent annual report, ranges from .59 to 1.08 parts per million (or milliliters per liter), and the EPA deems 4 parts per million the threshold for safe human consumption.
Though he didn’t have the numbers on hand, Correia said there’s trace amounts of fluoride in Ashland’s water as is.
“All ground water has natural fluoride, trace amounts,” he said.
What the town has left to do
Still, some residents say the town should have been more transparent on the fluoride issue. In response, the Board of Health has put fluoridation on the agenda for its meeting next Tuesday. The meeting will include information from state and local officials..