Fluoridation day is nearly upon us.
While a major step remains before Meadville Area Water Authority can begin fluoridating the water it provides to consumers, the equipment necessary for doing so is ready to go, according to MAWA officials.
“Konzell Construction has completed all of the work associated with the fluoride addition with the exception of the (landscape) restoration,” consulting engineer Tom Thompson told the board that oversees the authority during the monthly meeting on Wednesday. An invoice Thompson submitted with his report described the project as 94 percent complete.
The board then unanimously approved a $36,400 payment to Konzell Construction of Erie, bringing the total for the project to $179,000.
Before the water authority can begin fluoridation, it must be issued a permit by the state Department of Environmental Protection. The timing of the final inspection depends on DEP scheduling, Thompson told MAWA board members in January, but would likely come in April or May.
The permit application has been filed with DEP, according to Communications Director Neil Shader, but is not yet complete.
“We’re awaiting more paperwork from them for the application,” Shader said.
The missing ingredient? A $50 application fee, according to Shader.
“DEP has a new fee schedule this year,” MAWA Project Manager Bob Harrington said after the meeting. “We’re going to send it Monday.”
In the meantime, the fluoride system has been given the green light by representatives from Hach, which makes the analyzers that will regulate the fluoride supply.
“The manufacturer has been here, set it all up and certified it,” Harrington told the board. “They went through the entire meter, they calibrated everything, they certified everything, and they put it into service.”
Harrington said he had Hach representatives inspect the system since the two fluoride analyzers MAWA installed were purchased from the City of Franklin rather than directly from Hach.
The authority board approved the purchase of the analyzers and chemicals for $10,000 in October. The analyzers alone typically cost about $7,500 each, Harrington said at the time.
The authority’s bargain deal with the Franklin General Authority on fluoride analyzers comes in the wake of Franklin’s decision to discontinue fluoridation in June — a decision that itself came shortly after a February malfunction caused a spike in Franklin fluoride levels that exceeded the state maximum of 2 milligrams per liter. For the prevention of tooth decay, the Centers for Disease Control recommends fluoride levels of 0.7 parts per million.
The Franklin General Authority purchased the analyzers after the over-fluoridation incident, but the subsequent decision to discontinue fluoridation came before they were put in service.
“They were brand new, never installed,” Harrington told the board. “However, since they didn’t come directly from the manufacturer, we thought it was prudent that we had their certification.”