Holmen residents will get a say on whether fluoride should be in the water supply come Election Day.
Tuesday, the Holmen Village Board’s Finance and Personnel Committee approved wording for a referendum that will be on the Nov. 4 ballot.
The question will read: “Are you in favor of implementing the fluoridation of the village of Holmen water supply? Estimated initial capital improvement cost $138,000. Estimated annual operation cost $29,000. Yes or no.”
The measure will be binding.
Holmen has La Crosse county’s only public water system without a therapeutic level of fluoride. In fact, Holmen is the largest community in the state without fluoridated water.
A push for fluoridation in the village came out of a dental care advisory council formed in 2005 by the area’s three legislators.
Fluoridation has been hailed by the Centers for Disease Control as “one of the 10 great public-health achievements of the 20th century.” Since first being introduced in 1945 in Grand Rapids, Mich., fluoridation has grown to be included in the vast majority of public water systems. Fluoridated water is now supplied to 170 million Americans.
Those who oppose fluoride view it as a poison that can cause a range of health problems, and they argue that adding it to the drinking water to prevent dental decay in a minority of people with inadequate dental hygiene is philosophically akin to adding asthma medication to the air to treat the small minority of asthmatic people or putting appetite suppressants in the water to address the obesity epidemic.
Village trustees say they want to stay clear of the arguments, simply presenting facts related to costs involved. Members of the Finance and Personnel Committee, charged with wording the referendum, agreed that people should know the cost involved. “It is proper to tell voters what it will cost,” Trustee Mark Seitz said.
“Both sides have their pros and cons but what impacts the village is what it will cost,” Administrator/Clerk Catherine Schmit added.
The full village board was to discuss the referendum at its monthly meeting Thursday night, after this newspaper’s deadline.