The city of Bolivar may discontinue fluoridation of the city’s public water system due to rising costs, but members of the Board of Aldermen said Tuesday, March 30, they want to hear from the public before making a decision.
Discontinuing fluoridation could save the city about $40,000 this year and $17,000 in subsequent years, according to City Administrator Ron Mersch.
A Report of Sanitary Survey from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources sent to the city March 1 includes a mandatory recommendation to monitor chlorine residual and fluoride at the point of entry into the distribution system daily for each of the city’s five wells.
The city’s practice has been to check fluoride levels twice a month. Daily monitoring will require the city to pay someone to take samples manually every day, even on weekends and holidays, or to purchase an upgrade to the city’s SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system.
“We’ve worked real hard to get away from sending guys out on holidays and weekends,” Mersch said.
SCADA systems collect data from sensors in various locations throughout the water system, including the city’s wells. It allows for automatic monitoring of many aspects of the city’s water system. Additional components to the SCADA system — at a cost of $20,000 for chlorine and $25,000 for fluoride — would provide automatic monitoring for the two chemicals, as well as report generation for DNR. Neither expenditure is in the city’s 2010 budget.
When the Board of Aldermen voted in 1999 to add fluoride to the city’s water system to bring it up to a rate of 1 part per million, the estimated cost for chemicals was $4,000 to $4,200 per year, according to an article in the Feb. 17, 1999, Bolivar Herald-Free Press.
Mersch said the chemical product is now costing about $12,000 per year, with additional equipment maintenance that brings yearly cost to about $17,000.
Fluoridating public water systems has long been debated, from dentists who say it reduces cavity formation, especially among children, while others say the addition of fluoride does more harm than good.
“It is as much a budgetary issue as if it is the right thing,” Mersch said.
The aldermen said they want to schedule a public hearing before making any decisions, though a date for a public hearing has not been set…
Aldermen Bill Jones, Skopec, John Credille, Julie Bond, Darren Crowder, Bill Little and Clayton Troyer were present. Larry Crites was absent.