With all of the buzz about the upcoming Presidential Election, city of Imperial residents may be overlooking another issue they’ll be voting on Nov. 4.
That issue is whether the city of Imperial should or should not add fluoride to its water supply should levels ever drop below recommended minimums.
In June, the Imperial city council adopted a resolution, which set up the vote in the city limits.
City governments were faced with the issue after the Nebraska Legislature passed LB 245 in the 2008 session. It 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 Clerk/Administrator Jo Leyland said the city has taken no official position on the matter.
It is the council’s intent, she noted, to give the residents a vote on the matter.
Recent fluoride testing in five of the six city wells show fluoride levels of .78 ppm in two and .80 ppm in three others, said Public Works Director Pat Davison, which are above the .7 ppm minimum.
A sixth city well is not on line, and used only as back-up so was not tested.
However, if those levels would ever drop, or the state increases the minimum requirements, the city would have to begin adding fluoride, if there had been no vote taken.
If residents vote in support of adding fluoride, the city probably would then be required to add it only if the level drops below the state’s minimum, Leyland believes.
Regardless of next month’s vote, the city will be required to start testing its fluoride levels every three or six years, something they didn’t have to do before the law passed, Leyland said.
If voters decide to support the addition of fluoride, other costs would be assumed by the city.
Material included with last month’s utility bills noted the city’s water supply is served through six wells, which would require an injection unit for the fluoride at each one.
Cost estimates for that are $5,000 to $30,000 per well site, depending on whether new well houses would have to be built at each site, plus cost of the chemicals.
Dr. Rachell Richman, owner of Prairie Dental in Imperial, said she supports the addition of fluoride to the water system, should it ever be needed, and will vote that way so the process is in place should the city’s natural fluoride levels drop.
As a dentist, she has seen reports of cities next door to each other, one adding fluoride to the water and the other not, and the difference in tooth decay levels.
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Note from FAN: See the city’s resolution to put fluoride on the November ballot.