Whether or not fluoride should be added to Gothenburg’s water supply will be on the Nov. 4 ballot.
City council members unanimously decided at their meeting July 15 to include the question because of legislation that requires cities with populations more than 1,000 to add the chemical.
If the measure is not put to voters, city administrator Bruce Clymer said cities must fluoridate by June 2, 2010, unless a petition is started to put the issue on the ballot.
Council president Roger Dudley said the people of Gothenburg should determine what to do, not the council.
If residents approve the addition of fluoride to the city’s water supply, it’s estimated that the equipment needed to carry out the mandate will cost about $600 per well, according to Shane Gruber, city services director.
With four wells, the cost to the city would be $2,400.
Gruber said he’ll have to adjust his workload as testing will probably add two hours a day to test the wells and make adjustments.
“It’s not real simple,” he said.
Although the city bought and began using fluoridation equipment in the early 1990s, Gruber said that equipment is now obsolete.
Two Rivers Public Health Department estimates the cost of fluoridation to be about $3 per year per customer in cities with populations less than 5,000.
During an earlier interview, Clymer said council members passed a resolution in November of 1995 to add fluoride to city water.
Fluoridation took place from April to November of 1996.
Clymer said it stopped because residents voted to repeal the action—802 for the repeal and 593 against—when the measure was put on the ballot.
Proponents of fluoridation think it helps prevent tooth decay while opponents say it poses health risks when added to drinking water.
Two Rivers officials said that approximately 67.3% of the U.S. population using public water has access to fluoridated water.
Most water supplies contain trace amounts of fluoride, they said, and are considered naturally fluoridated when the natural level of the chemical is greater than 0.7 parts per million.
When a public water system adjusts the level of fluoride to 0.7-1.2 ppm, it’s referred to as community water fluoridation.