With all of the buzz about the upcoming U.S. Presidential Election, City of Grant voters may be overlooking another issue they’ll be voting on Nov. 4.
That issue is whether the City of Grant should or should not add fluoride to its water supply to meet the recommended minimums.
In July, the Grant City Council adopted a resolution to put the decision in front of Grant voters.
City governments were faced with the issue after the Nebraska Legislature passed LB 245 in the 2008 session.
LB 245 requires that cities with a population of 1,000 or more begin fluoridation of the public water supply to a minimum of .7 parts per million (ppm), unless its residents vote not to.
City Superintendent Tyson McGreer said the city has taken no official position on the matter.
Recent fluoride testing of Grant’s three city wells show fluoride levels of .68 ppm, or just below the levels recommended by the Nebraska Department of Health.
If voters decide to support the addition of fluoride, there are costs that would be assumed by the city.
Cost estimates are $3,000 to $10,000 per well site, McGreer said, plus cost of the chemicals, which he believes would be about $200 per well per year. Those estimates were provided by the Nebraska Department of Health.
McGreer said there would also be some training costs involved for city workers to learn how the machinery works to add fluoride to the drinking water.
Dr. Marvin Swan, Grant dentist, said there are definite benefits for having good fluoride levels in drinking water, most of which became obvious to him in dental school in Lincoln.
“Lincoln was fluoridated and there was a definite difference from patients in Lincoln and those who came from outside,” where the water wasn’t fluoridated, Dr. Swan said.
He also notices that same situation in this area.
Patients from areas where the water has higher levels of naturally-occurring fluoride in the water, generally, have less decay, especially in children.
“In the area of decay, it benefits the patient,” he said.
Both the national and state dental associations are in support of fluoridation where naturally-occurring levels are below what is recommended.
On the other side of the issue, there is concern in some circles that prenatal exposure to fluoride is dangerous and can affect the development of brain, thyroid and metabolic systems.
It is a chemical, and considered toxic in very high levels. Others warn that municipalities could have trouble tracking the fluoride and people’s response to it.
Ballot Wording is Confusing
When city residents go to the polls, they’ll have to think twice about how they are voting on the fluoride issue.
By marking the “for” box, they are actually voting “not” to add the fluoride to drinking water.
An “against” vote will support adding the fluoride.