The issue of whether to implement regionwide water fluoridation continues to be a topic of discussion throughout the county.
The Blue Lake City Council delved into fluoridation during Tuesday’s council meeting but did not come to a consensus, instead opting to see how the issue plays out before the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District.
There was brief discussion of putting water fluoridation up to a vote, though it is too late for the city to place a measure on the June ballot, Councilmember Karen Barnes said.
Barnes made a motion, which passed unanimously: to move forward by continuing the discussion with HBMWD and to see what results if a town hall meeting is held.
“We’re just moving forward with it to investigate it,” City Manager Wiley Buck said.
The question of whether Blue Lake residents would like water fluoridation is something the council may work to get on the November ballot, Buck said.
According to the HBMWD’s preliminary cost estimate report, probable capital costs for water fluoridation would total $325,000, with operations and maintenance costs estimated at $46,000 per year.
For Blue Lake, this totals approximately $8,481 for construction costs and $1,200 for annual operation and maintenance costs.
Water fluoridation has received mixed reactions locally.
Opponents of fluoridation cite studies indicating fluoride ingestion has negative health impacts on the body, and say to implement fluoridation goes against freedom of choice.
Those in favor of fluoride say that it is safe and cost-effective, with numerous public health agencies backing its use.
The McKinleyville Community Services District initially approached the HBMWD to see whether it would consider water fluoridation.
In addition to the MCSD, HBMWD asked its other wholesale customers, including Blue Lake, Humboldt Community Services District, Fieldbrook-Glendale Community Services District and Manila Community Services District to provide feedback on fluoridation.
Eureka and Arcata, which already fluoridate their water, were also asked for input as they could be unified with the rest of the region if fluoridation proceeds.
So far, HBMWD has received response from two of its customers — Humboldt CSD, which is in support of fluoridation, and Manila CSD which is against it.
Manila voters rejected Measure B by a landslide on Feb. 6.
Measure B was an advisory measure asking voters whether they would like fluoride added into the water supply.
HBMWD General Manager Carol Rische said the water district board is sensitive about the issue.
“They think this decision should be at the local level,” she said.
HBMWD’s next meeting will be held on March 13 at 9 a.m. in the HBMWD board room at 828 7th St.
The board will hear a status report on regional fluoridation and will consider scheduling a public hearing.