Willamina’s city council Dec. 9 took action on two water issues that could affect the city’s water availability and quality for years to come. The council launched an investigation into connecting Sheridan and Willamina’s water supplies, and it voted against adding fluoride to the water supply.
Willamina dentist Gary Brooks, who has supported adding fluoride to the city’s water supply, warned Willamina’s council that if they are going to connect to Sheridan’s, whose water supply is fluoridated, the city will have to defluoridate Sheridan’s water.
That may not be an issue, suggested Lonnie Hinchcliff, interim Sheridan city manager who attended Willamina’s council meeting that night. Along with the council and visitors, Hinchcliff listened closely to a half-hour talk by Lynne Campbell of Oregon Citizens for Safe Drinking Water. Campbell brought dozens of documents that suggest that adding fluoride to public water supplies, a practice that began in the 1940’s in the U.S., has had questionable, possibly even detrimental impacts on tooth decay. Among her points: The kind of fluoride added to water is unregulated by federal agencies and may be tainted with lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury; modern Americans are already getting the suggested dose of fluoride every day in toothpaste and foods watered with fluoridated water; and there is evidence to suggest that fluoridated water will actually overdose most people, a situation that could cause permanent discoloration and damage to teeth.
But even without hearing Campbell’s talk, the 117 Willamina residents who responded to a poll this month overwhelmingly opposed adding fluoride to the city water supply. Of the responders, 98 opposed fluoride and 19 supported it. The city sent out more than 700 questionnaires, and to encourage participation, they entered all responders in a drawing for a Christmas turkey.
Hinchcliff, who has been Sheridan’s longtime public works superintendent, said he is going to review the addition of fluoride in his city’s water supply as well.
“I think our council needs to hear this information, too,” Hinchcliff said. “Maybe there will be some changes (in Sheridan).” Sheridan has fluoridated its water for about 25 years, according to Brooks, who has been supporting fluoridation in Willamina for the past several years.