Though the villages of Vernon and Oneida Castle, the town of Verona and the city of Sherrill purchase water from the city of Oneida, they will have no vote on whether or not the city will fluoridate its water supply.
As the Oneida Common Council grapples with the proposal placed before them by the Oneida-Madison Counties Preventive Dentistry Coalition to fluoridate the city’s public water supply, municipalities that purchase water from the city Water Department are debating whether the fluoridation move is necessary.
Discussions among city leaders are ongoing, but the time will come for area residents and municipalities who are water customers to speak at a public hearing, city officials said.
Municipalities that are water customers may send representatives to speak at a public hearing prior to the fluoridation move being made.
A public hearing date has not been scheduled yet, city officials said.
The city sells water to Vernon, Oneida Castle, Sherrill and Verona.
Last year, the town of Verona hooked up to the city water supply.
Verona was previously using wells to service residents in the hamlet of Verona. By hooking up to the city water system, the town, which was responsible for water supply in the hamlet of Verona, avoided having to inspect and repair or upgrade any wells in the hamlet to comply with State Department of Environmental Conservation standards.
The move to the city water supply also corrected many water pressure problems water users in Verona were having under the well system.
Verona Town Supervisor Dave Reed said the town will have no vote in the decision to fluoridate the water supply, but said he trusts the judgment of the city common councilors.
“We trust Oneida, because Oneida has been a really good neighbor,” Reed said. “We have several working relationships with Oneida, and we’ll agree with what they think is best.”
Reed said he has not researched the fluoridation measure extensively, but said that most cities across the country fluoridate water supplies.
In the town of Verona, the Turning Stone Casino Resort is a heavy water user.
Mark Emery, spokesperson for the Oneida Indian Nation, which owns Turning Stone, said the resort would be affected by the change to fluoridated water.
“The Oneida Indian Nation is discussing the issue internally with its public health professionals and looks to have input in community discussions,” Emery said.
Dave Barker, city manager of Sherrill, said he is personally opposed to the measure but would have to poll the city water board for an official opinion. Sherrill will also have no vote in the decision-making process.
William Osborne, mayor of the village of Vernon, said there is a large body of evidence that says that public water fluoridation is safe.
“I don’t think the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture would let us poison ourselves,” Osborne said.
He said the village would not have a vote on the move to water fluoridation.
“The only say we would have (if we were unhappy) is to go buy water someplace else, and there is no other place to go.”
Mayor of Oneida Castle Fred Hill said that the village buys water from the city just like a resident of Oneida would.
Residents of the village pay their water bills at Oneida City Hall, Hill said.
He has not, however, paid much attention to the fluoridation issue and did not express his opinion on the measure.
“If I was told by the Village Board that they didn’t like it, we would tell the city we don’t support it,” Hill said.