EUREKA SPRINGS — Opponents of mandatory fluoridated drinking water heard good news Thursday at the quarterly Carroll-Boone Water District meeting: CBWD attorney Dan Bowers said Delta Dental had told him that the fluoride project has been delayed considerably.
“We have withdrawn our proposal and replaced it with a similar proposal, but the funding period is changed to May 2013 to October 2014.”
Under the original proposal, construction was to have begun next month and be completed in one year, although that timeline would also have to be extended.
Bowers said dental insurer Delta Dental did not give a reason for being willing to move back funding of the project until next year, but he suspects the company has been flooded with funding requests and may be reevaluating its budget.
Under Act 197, signed by Gov. Beebe last year, water systems in Arkansas that serve 5,000 or more people are required to fluoridate their water, but funding cannot come from taxes or water sales revenue. Delta Dental offered to pay startup costs for every such project in the state.
They balked, however, when consulting engineers McGoodwin, Williams & Yates (MWY) turned in an estimated price tag of $1.23 million for the Carroll-Boone project. Delta Dental countered with an offer to pay $763,000.
Several concerned citizens attended the meeting, and CBWD Chairman James Yates said he would allow 15 minutes’ worth of comments.
Donna Hursay said it is frustrating there is no one who will say what is in the fluoride being used in drinking water. She was referring to reports by CBWD that of 49 manufacturers queried about the content of their product, not one replied, nor is the National Sanitation Foundation willing to release the data upon which they based their approval of fluoride products.
“I have a son with a hypothyroid condition, and we can’t even touch the water once fluoride is in it,” Hursay said.
Natalie Mannering said there is a packet of information at the Eureka Springs library outlining why fluoride is not a good thing. The packet was compiled by Holly Winger, who was also the meeting. She has a background in science.
“It appears the board is not paying attention to the world,” commented Richard Schrum, who with his wife, Darlene, submitted a letter in May putting the CBWD on notice that the water district is legally responsible for what goes in the water and any adverse effects it may have. Santa Fé two weeks ago took fluoride out of their water. Most of Europe has taken fluoride out of their water.”
“Fluorine is the worst of the halogens,” said George Geier, who has a background in chemistry. “There are more thyroid problems because iodine is replaced by fluoride.”
MWY engineer Brad Hammond said his company has not redone its original engineering report and estimate to Delta Dental, but he thinks the project could be redesigned in line with what the insurer is willing to pay and address the safety concerns of employees and consumers.
“But we have not done any in-depth design work and won’t at this point,” he said. “All we have is an estimated per-square-foot building cost. We won’t know what the real costs are until we go out for bids. At this point, we aren’t doing anything.”
Bowers said the board does not need to make any decisions today.
CBWD Chairman James Yates, who has several times reiterated that Carroll-Boone is constrained to follow the law, reminded those attending there is an election in November and the state legislature meets in January 2013.
“Contact your legislators,” he said. “They wrote the fluoridation law. Urge others to contact them and let your feelings be known.”