EUREKA SPRINGS — Fluoridating the Carroll-Boone drinking water is moving closer to reality with the presentation of a preliminary study by consulting engineers McGoodwin, Williams & Yates (MWY) at the water district’s quarterly meeting Thursday.
Engineer Brad Hammond, along with Jim Vetter of MWY, presented the report and said the cost of construction of two fluoride feed systems, one for each of the two water treatment plants, will come in at $1.23 million, with contingencies.
The current annual cost of the fluoride product is around $20,000.
Arkansas Act 197, passed last year, mandates that water systems serving 5,000 or more people must fluoridate their water. Delta Dental, a dental insurer, offered to pay the capital startup costs. The act is written so that public funds cannot be used to pay for it.
Hammond said the timeline is to begin detailed engineering and site design in February, submit plans to the Arkansas Department of Health by May, advertise for bids in June and begin construction in August.
Construction is expected to take one year.
Board members expressed concerns about the engineering fees if Delta Dental refuses to pay the entire cost of implementation.
Office Manager Jim Allison said employees are also concerned about safety, both for themselves having to handle the fluoride and for the public. Water operators are required to operate under NSF/ANSI Standard 60, which addresses the health effects of water treatment chemicals and additives.
NSF 60 requires full disclosure of each chemical added to water and a toxicology review.
In the case of industrial fluoride, it’s not the fluoride itself, but what else might be in it, Allison said.
“The district has written 49 letters and had no answers from manufacturers or the Health Department. All fluoride products have contaminants. We need to know what we’re putting in the water because consumers will ask.
“We’re at a quandary out here. Do we follow NSF 60? It’s not pharmaceutical grade, so there are contaminants.”
“I don’t know if we have the ability to enforce the manufacturers to reveal what’s in it,” said James Yates, board president. “We also want to worry about whether we have the proper safety handling procedures for our employees, to have a very safe environment for them.”
“We will make sure it complies with the Department of Health,” Hammond said.
He said when Delta Dental meets Feb. 3, it will consider Carroll-Boone’s request for funding.
The board made no motion to approve a contract with MWY until it has heard back from Delta Dental.
In other business, the board…