BELTON — Fort Hood and several other Bell County communities that receive their water from Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 have not had fluoride in their water for at least two years.
During the County Commissioners’ workshop Monday morning, County Judge Jon Burrows asked, “Do we have any idea why they quit?” No one in attendance at the workshop knew the answer and neither does WCID No. 1.
“I don’t know how long it’s been that way,” Ricky Garrett, water district general manager, said, adding that for the two years he has worked there they have not been putting fluoride in the water.
Garrett said his contacts in the public works department at Fort Hood have told him to “stay the course” with the unfluoridated water despite a Department of Defense’s requirement. Garrett would not reveal who his contacts are at Fort Hood.
“We have known this for some time,” Christopher Haug, Fort Hood spokesman, said Monday.
Along with Fort Hood, Bell County WCID No. 1 provides water to the cities of Killeen, Belton, Harker Heights, Copperas Cove and Nolanville. While Texas does not mandate cities to fluoridate their water, the Department of Defense does.
“They turned it off when their largest customer requires it,” Commissioner Tim Brown said.
In 2013, the Department of Defense issued a memo about requiring fluoridated water. All military bases serving at least 3,300 enlisted personnel should have fluoridated drinking water by 2016, according to the memo. Fort Hood has about 41,000 soldiers that work on the base, according to its website.
“No change in water supplier is currently under consideration,” Haug said, noting that their water has natural fluoride and that most people get sufficient fluoride from toothpaste and processed beverages.
Rita Kelley, director of Bell County Indigent Health Services, informed the County Commissioners about the lack of fluoride in WCID No. 1.
Kelley told the commissioners that the state sent letters to all of the mayors and city managers of the affected cities in March.
“And they have gotten absolutely no response from anybody,” she said.
Kelley brought up fluoride because she was tasked with coordinating a group that will try to get fluoride back into water supplies. The group will be funded by a grant from the Texas Department of State Health Services and will be trained on how to talk about fluoride to the community.