Fluoride Action Network

Clarksburg: Water board to resume discussions about fluoride

Source: The Exponent Telegram | May 13th, 2015 | By Jim Davis, Staff writer

CLARKSBURG — Two weeks after voting to stop adding fluoride to the water supply, the Clarksburg Water Board agreed Tuesday to resume public discussions about the controversial issue.

Board President Al Cox directed General Manager Dick Welch to put the matter on the May 26 meeting agenda for discussion.

“Let’s have a public discussion about it again,” Cox said during the regular meeting.

Cox, who cast the dissenting vote on the motion to stop buying fluoride, said the board took action without proper notification to the public.

Board member Paul Howe, who voted to stop buying the chemical, said the matter was debated in public several times in the past.

None of the comments from those in support of fluoridating water as an effective way to fight tooth decay swayed him from his stance that the chemical could be harmful to people’s health, Howe said.

That said, Howe said he has no problem debating the pros and cons of fluoride again.

Board member Charlie Thayer’s term is up this year, and three people are running for the seat.

Thayer, who voted with Howe on the issue, is not among the candidates.

One of the candidates for Thayer’s seat, Allen Gorrell, was at Tuesday’s meeting.

“The timing’s perfect,” Howe said. “I’m glad we did it. It’s opened up the discussion.”

Like Howe, Thayer said he is concerned about the long-term effects of fluoride on people’s health.

“I don’t have any questions about its effectiveness as far as teeth are concerned,” Thayer said. “I’m very skeptical about all these experts.”

Thayer was referring to the various public health agencies and organizations that support water fluoridation.

Those organizations include the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Public Health Service, World Health Organization, American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatrics.

Earlier in the meeting, Cox opened and read aloud two letters urging the board to continue adding fluoride to the water supply.

The letters were from Dr. Jennifer Momen, a fellow with the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Kelli Caseman, with the West Virginia School-Based Health Assembly.

Thayer did offer an olive branch, suggesting the public utility fluoridate the water three days a week.

Cox asked Welch and engineering consultant Matt Fluharty if that were even possible.

No, because there may still be water in the tanks from the day before, depending on usage, they replied.

Local and state governments decide whether to fluoridate the water systems under their jurisdictions, while the federal government recommends how much they should add if they choose to do so.

The current fluoride concentration level recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is 0.7 milligrams per liter of water.

The board has five months’ supply of fluoride remaining, Welch said.

In other business, the board adopted an $8.5 million budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

The budget includes no rate increase, Welch noted.

The bulk of the proposed budget’s revenues — $7.9 million — come from the sale or resale of treated water.

On the expenditure side, the budget allocates $2 million for water treatment; $1.5 million for water distribution; and $898,117 in capital improvements for all departments.

The budget now goes to the state Auditor’s Office, Welch said.


— The utility lost about 825,000 gallons of water as a result of six water line breaks over the weekend, Welch said.

The breaks occurred at Chestnut Hills, Hill ‘n Dale, Kramer Drive, Highland Hospital, Dane Street and Parrill Court.

“We attribute the numerous breaks in the Chestnut Hills area to a short power interruption that occurred at the treatment plant minutes before the water line breaks,” Welch said.

— The board approved several change orders on capital improvement projects…