GLOVERSVILLE & JOHNSTOWN — The city of Gloversville is re-examining the role of fluoride in its drinking water after a possible deal to sell water to the city of Johnstown has been held up by a 1999 ordinance that prevents Johnstown from using fluoride in its water supply.
The Johnstown Water Department had approached Gloversville about buying excess water to increase pressure for residents and businesses in the area of Bloomingdale Avenue and Route 30 near the Gloversville border, according to Water Board Chairman Nicholas Cannizzo.
But the deal was halted by the fluoride issue. Gloversville uses it, Johnstown does not.
“I’m not going to just change what we’re doing because the city of Johnstown wants it,” said Gloversville Mayor Dayton King, but he said the situation provides an opportunity to reconsider the issue.
Fluoride is commonly added to municipal drinking water to help prevent tooth decay.
The practice is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Office of the United States Attorney General and the New York State Department of Health.
In New York, fluoride levels are capped at 2.2 milligrams per liter, lower than the federal standard of 4 milligrams per liter, according to the state Department of Health.
“My research has been so far that a lot of communities throughout the United States do put fluoride in the water and it certainly doesn’t hurt,” King said. “And typically the people that think it does are really kind of conspiracy theorists and think it’s messing with your brain. But I’m open-minded and I’ll continue to educate myself and I think the council will do the same.”
According to the DOH, evidence linking fluoride to cancer is “not clear,” and more studies are underway. It has been linked to weakened bones at high levels.
King said the city has reached out to the DOH for an opinion and is waiting to hear back.
Ultimately, he said the issue is likely to be put to the public in a referendum later this year.
In Johnstown, Cannizzo said the extra water would increase pressure for residential users along Bloomingdale Avenue, who currently experience low pressure during times of high use, as well as provide an opportunity for greater commercial development along Route 30.
If Gloversville does not decide to remove the fluoride from its water, he said, the Johnstown Water Department will have to seek another solution.
Johnstown Mayor Michael Julius said he’s not planning to revisit the idea of fluoridating the city’s water.
“We had a referendum and the people of Johnstown voted against fluoride,” he said. “That’s the position I’m taking.”