YORK — York voters have already said no to fluoridation of the public water supply, but other towns with more than 1,000 in population could have an extended deadline to vote on the issue.
State senators advanced a bill from general file that would eliminate a deadline for cities and villages to opt out of Nebraska’s mandatory drinking water fluoridation provisions.
Under a bill passed by the 2008 Legislature, cities or villages with a population of at least 1,000 were required to add fluoride to their drinking water supply unless voters approved local opt-out ordinances by June 1, 2010. The fluoridation requirement does not apply to municipalities with a population under 1,000.
LB36, sponsored by Scottsbluff Sen. John Harms, would extend the opt-out deadline for cities and villages that reach the population threshold for mandatory fluoridation after June 1, 2010.
“These citizens should have, deserve to have, the same privilege and opportunity,” he said.
Under the bill, a city or village that reaches a population of 1,000 or more after June 1, 2010, could place a proposal on the next statewide general election ballot to prohibit the addition of fluoride to the water supply.
That issue could be of interest in places such as Henderson, where the population teeters around the 1,000 mark. New census figures have not yet been released to determine if that community, for example, would go over the threshold.
York has already voted to opt out of the fluoride mandate, with a vote of 1,970 to 1,301. So did the city’s neighbors, Aurora (1,245 compared to 891) and Geneva (814 votes compared on 228).
However, 1,478 Seward voters said they do not want fluoride prohibited from their water supply, compared to 1,239. Stromsburg voters also chose to have fluoride added to their water, but the margin between those for and against was extremely close (by one vote).
The cost of adding fluoride to a municipality’s water supply has been estimated to cost around $5,000 per well, to set up the system, according to the Nebraska Dental Association and earlier estimates that have been presented in past debates on the subject. Then, it is expected to cost approximately $1.79 per person per year for operation and maintenance.