Back in July of 2011, the water department had to make a decision with its fluoride feed system.
“We have the feed equipment in place, it was something that we were doing before, but it started causing treatment issues. We were getting turbidity problems that had started to pop up and because that can be a bigger concern when it comes to the DNR with turbidity, and we’ve had turbidity issues in the past, when that started causing issues, we weren’t sure what was going on at the time,” says Oskaloosa Water Department General Manager Chad Coon.
The department determined the fluoride feed system was the problem and made the decision to shut it down.
“With the turbidity and things the way they were, it was not something at that time that we were willing to risk,” Coon says.
Turbidity is the haziness or cloudiness of water and is a key component used to measure water quality.Â
Since then, water in Oskaloosa has only had fluoride that already comes with the water as a naturally occurring mineral. That can range between 0.15 to 0.6 milligrams per liter. But there has been no fluoride added to meet the recommended state dosage of 0.7 milligrams per liter that can help with dental health. Coon says the department has discussed the issue with local dentists.
“Fluoride strengthens the enamel in the teeth as they’re developing,” Coon says. “Through the 20th century when fluoride feed, when that was found to be something that was beneficial, there were a lot of other secondary issues that subsided as a result of that.”
Fast-forward to 2016 and now the department is looking at fixing its fluoride feed system by applying for a grant from Delta Dental of Iowa. The grant is worth up to $25,000 and requires a five-year commitment to continue fluoridation in Osky. It also requires the department to submit a sample every month to demonstrate its implementation.
Coon says the grant would cover the costs to fix the system, which he estimates at more than $20,000. The department would have to pay the ongoing expense of adding fluoride, but Coon does not expect this to impact the cost of water in Osky.
Coon says his department will continue to gather information on the grant and how the change might impact the department before discussing it again with the board next month.