The South Heartland District Health Department services Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster Counties.


The South Heartland District Health Department has spoken out in favor of putting fluoride in the city’s water supply.

On Sept. 10, the health department’s Board of Health approved a resolution officially endorsing community water fluoridation. Three ballot questions have been placed on the Nov. 4 general election ballot to address the issue.

The first two questions, as put on the ballot by the Hastings City Council and a community petition, asks voters to decide if they want to override the Nebraska Legislature’s decision to require the fluoridation of community water supplies.

The third question, as put on the ballot by petition, establishes criteria for what additives are put into the water supply and would require that Hastings Utilities educate the public on any additives put into the water in the future.

The resolution, as adopted by the board, states: “Be it therefore resolved, that due to the devastating consequences of tooth decay, the Board of Health for South Heartland District Health Department urges local policymakers and the public to consider the effectiveness of community water fluoridation as an economical public health measure in preventing tooth decay, particularly among those at greatest risk. Be it further resolved, that the Board of Health urges state and local policymakers and the public to favorably consider policies related to the important oral health benefits of optimally fluoridated community water systems.”

Michele Bever, executive director of the health department, said this morning that the decision to support community water fluoridation wasn’t a new topic for the district’s board.

The district’s Board of Health is comprised of three representatives from each of the health district’s counties, including Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster. There is also a physician, a dentist and a veterinarian on the board.

Bever said the board’s job is to provide guidance to the health department about their directions within the communities and counties.

In 2003, she said the planning committee created the public health assessment plan, which included the goal of preventing and controlling oral diseases, conditions and injuries.

The main objective of that goal was to provide optimal fluoride levels in all sources for its residents, including the water supply.

In the health district, four communities — Blue Hill, Nelson, Red Cloud and Superior — already add fluoride to their water supply. Bever said more than two-thirds of the population of the United States lives in communities where water supplies are fluoridated.

Community water fluoridation, as required by the Legislature, is simply the process of adjusting the level of fluoride that occurs naturally in water to the level considered optimal in helping protect against tooth decay, she said.

The Board of Health is now completing a revised version of the public health assessment plan that includes further emphasis on the fight against oral problems and the promotion of fluoride in all sources, including water.