At least one Parsons city commissioner seems resolute in continuing with a project to add fluoride to the public water supply, despite the increased projected price, while another isn’t so sure.
Parsons city commissioners plan to hear from Bruce Allman of CH2M Hill engineering firm during their regular meeting on Tuesday evening. Allman will discuss findings form a fluoride evaluation project and present a proposed design. The commission may consider giving approval to move forward with the project.
The commission is meeting on Tuesday instead of the third Monday of the month because Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The city halted its fluoridation program in the spring of 2013 because of the corrosion fluoride and caustic soda were causing to an elbow pipe at the water treatment plant.
LaForge and Budd Construction Co. repaired the damage under a contract with the city and moved the injection point for caustic soda to a tank outside the water plant. Clevenger has said the injection point for the fluoride also will have to be relocated. Failure to do so would cause further problems in the future.
In November 2013, after much discussion, the commissioners agreed the city should pursue the needed changes to begin adding fluoride to water again.
The commissioners had heard from Parsons dentists in favor of fluoridation because of its ability to strengthen the enamel of teeth, preventing decay. Fluoridation is recommended by most dentists because added fluoride in water helps strengthen adults’ enamel through topical contact. In children, the ingestion of fluoride helps strengthen the enamel on their teeth as they are still being formed.
Others spoke against adding fluoride to the public water supply, citing possible health problems associated with it as well as dosing the public with medication without its permission. The commission, however, cited the national health organizations that favor fluoridation and a lack of reliable studies proving any harm from fluoridation.
At the time, the city staff thought the relocation of the fluoride pump would cost about $50,000. Recently, the staff revealed that the estimate is now closer to $190,000 because the injection point will have to be located at a head tank. Because frequent monitoring will be required, the city will need to have a catwalk built to the tank.
Commissioner Bill Hogelin said during a Thursday afternoon work session that a dentist has contacted him over concern about the city not restarting the fluoridation program based on the increased cost. Hogelin said he would tell the dentist to go to Tuesday’s meeting.
During the work session, Raven Martinez of Parsons said $190,000 is a big expense to add fluoride to water, especially when a small amount already occurs naturally.
Mayor Jeff Perez said the commission spent a lot of time discussing the pros and cons of fluoridation and agreed to re-initiate it. After a lot of thought, Perez said he came to a decision himself and is happy with it. Although he does struggle with the increased cost, the “stick in the spoke, so to speak” doesn’t make him want to relive the agony of going through the debate again.
Perez said the 2016 budget doesn’t include $190,000 in expenses for fluoridation, and that something else will have to “go to the side.”
Commissioner Aaron Keith Stewart, who was not on the commission when the original decision to reinstate the fluoridation program was made, said considering the newly added costs, he would like to hear the rationale behind it.
“For me, it’s not making sense yet to do it,” Stewart said.
The $190,000 projection seems like a lot of money that could be spent on other projects, he said.
“I’m not interesting in revisiting the decision at all that we made,” Perez said…