Independence, MO — Independence city officials acknowledged that when Independence residents hear “using additives in drinking water” it may conjure up bad memories of a fluoride debate from years past.
On Monday, the City Council heard the first reading of an ordinance that would, in effect, establish policy that would prohibit additives of any kind to drinking water unless the substance is approved by the FDA.
City Manager Robert Heacock said the ordinance, subject to the council’s vote May 4, shouldn’t cause alarm among citizens. It reads: “the city will not add to the drinking water any substance solely for the purpose of treating or affecting the physical or mental functions of the body of any person unless the manufacturer, producer or supplier supplies proof that the substance is approved by the (FDA) for safety and effectiveness…”
“Nothing will be added to the water unless it is approved by the FDA,” Heacock said.
According to the city’s Web site, Independence gets its water from a deep aquifer below the Missouri River north of the city. The water contains approximately 0.3 parts per million of naturally occurring fluoride; no fluoride is added. The Web site states Independence water is considered moderately hard and is about 110-120 parts per million or 6-7 grains per gallon.
Council Member Jim Page, who proposed the ordinance, said the rational behind the measure is to keep the city’s drinking water clean. The city’s drinking water was judged among the best in the nation, placing fourth at the 2008 Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting competition in Berkeley Springs, W.Va.
“It’s to maintain our level of clean drinking water,” Page said of his intentions. “Last year we were in an international drinking competition and we finished with the fourth best water in the world. I just want to protect what we got.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the FDA does not regulate additives to community drinking water, but because the FDA has authority over bottled water as a consumer beverage, they do regulate the intentional addition of fluoride to bottled water and requires labeling identifying the additive used.
A controversy in 2002 between Independence residents and the city on the city’s intention to add fluoride to the drinking water caused enough outcry that the ordinance didn’t see the light of day then, and it will not in the foreseeable future, Heacock said.
“The ordinance restricts additives to drinking water unless approved by the FDA,” Heacock said. “We will not be adding fluoride to the water.”
The city also supplies water to Lee’s Summit and Blue Springs.