EUREKA SPRINGS – City officials followed water customers’ advice and rejected fluoridation, again playing the spoiler for nearby towns that want it added to their drinking water.
“The citizens of Eureka Springs don’t want to be medicated against their will,” Mayor Beau Satori said Tuesday. “They just want fine-tasting water.”
The Eureka Springs City Council voted 4-2 last week against adding fluoride to the water treated and disbursed by the Carroll-Boone Water District. The shared regional pipeline flows east to Berryville, Green Forest and Harrison – all cities that like the idea of fluoridation.
Regional water officials won’t add fluoride to the collective water system unless all the member cities agree.
Berryville Mayor Tom McKinney said the Eureka Springs decision makes it harder for his city.
“The next thing you know, we’re going to have to take iodine out of salt for Eureka Springs,” McKinney said.
Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by strengthening the enamel of teeth. In Arkansas, 58 percent of the state’s water systems add fluoride to the water supplies of about 1.4 million people. People who don’t like the idea of fluoridated water say it should be used topically only, because they worry that ingesting it could cause other health problems.
A Berryville dental hygienist most recently brought up the idea of adding fluoride to the Carroll-Boone water system. Judy Echenrode noticed what she thought was a high rate of decay in patient’s teeth and asked why the district didn’t have fluoridated water.
She learned that the cities had voted in favor of it – except Eureka Springs – 12 years ago. So she asked Eureka officials if they were more interested now, and the council decided to poll residents with an informal questionnaire in water bills. The results: 336 against fluoridation and 212 for it.
The council made it official with its vote last week. Before voting on the anti-fluoridation motion, aldermen split 3-3 on whether to call a citywide election in 2002. Satori could have broken the tie with his own vote but chose not to.
Harrison Mayor Robert A. Reynolds said his city used to have fluoridated water before signing onto the Carroll-Boone line. Local dentists have commented that the teeth they see have gotten worse.
Satori said other cities can fluoridate their water in the lines after they’ve passed Eureka Springs, or within their own city pipeline system.
“They may think it’d be the ultimate convenience, at least for the expense for them, to dump the powder in at the water district,” Satori said, “but the citizens of Eureka Springs don’t want anything added to their water.”