We don’t envy the members of the Alpena Municipal Council, who on Monday had to make a decision whether or not to continue adding fluoride to the city’s water supply.
Ultimately, the council decided to discontinue its use, effective May 1. The law does not require the city to add the chemical — which helps drinkers of the water to have healthy teeth, among other benefits — to the drinking water supply.
Supplies of the powdered fluoride the city currently adds to its water are running low nationwide, which could have forced the city to switch to liquid fluoride, which would have required a $100,000 upgrade to the city’s water plant and a $20,000 annual bill for the chemical, plus exposed city workers to potential health risks.
Those are some big numbers to spend for something unrequired.
Plus, some council members worried about forcing city and Alpena Township residents who drink city water to ingest a chemical into their body. Prolonged exposure to too-high levels of fluoride — the city carefully controls its levels — can cause bone problems, especially in older adults and younger children.
We don’t know if the council made the right decision. Without fluoride in the drinking water, residents will have to take special care to get the chemical elsewhere, such as toothpaste, to keep their teeth healthy.
But the council members must act as good stewards of the city’s finances, and spending $100,000 on a bonus offering to city residents, one could argue, may not be the best use of those finances.
Mayor Matt Waligora said that perhaps residents could place the issue of whether to add fluoride into the drinking water on a future ballot question. We think that could be a good way to go, letting the people have the final say on whether the added expense is worth it.
*Original full-text article online at: https://www.thealpenanews.com/opinion/editorials-and-columns/2022/12/city-was-in-tough-spot-on-fluoride-decision/