Survey results will provide final decision to Snowmass Water & Sanitation District’s board
The vote in Denver had been watched closely by the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District’s board, which included a link from its website to an informational forum that examined both sides of the debate over fluoride in the water system. Snowmass opted to stop adding fluoride on July 17, after its board voted 3-1 for the removal.
In a statement about its unanimous decision, Denver Water Commissioner Greg Austin wrote: “After careful consideration of the information put forth by both sides of the fluoridation debate, I am convinced that the community water fluoridation level recommended by the U.S. Public Heath Service provides substantial health benefits and is a safe, cost-effective and common sense contribution to the health of the public.”
Snowmass Village dentist Karina Redko applauded the decision.
“Through extensive hearings, they reviewed objectively the information provided by leading voices on both sides of the debate and deciphered which scientific and medical resources were credible,” she said.
“It comes as no surprise that the vote was unanimous; the amount of medical research that supports water fluoridation is overwhelming, she added. “The scientific information against fluoride comes only from a few sources, none of which is verifiable.”
Snowmass’ decision was spawned by an April decision by the health department’s recommendation the standard of fluoridation be lowered from 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter to a maximum concentration of 0.7.
Subsequent discussions at the board level, over several months, led to Snowmass’ decision to take it out of the water.
Opponents claim there are plenty of natural sources with which the public may derive adequate amounts of fluoride. District manager Kit Hamby has said, “People now are questioning, more than ever, why we’re adding fluoride to our water.”
That’s engendered passionate public discussions and myriad letters to the editor representing both sides of the aisle, culminating with the town council’s strong suggestion in early August that the decision be revisited. District water users will now have a say, as the board is moving ahead with a survey that will poll all 3,400 of its users on whether to keep the water fluoride-free or add it back into the system. The survey results are expected by October and will cost between $7,000-$10,000.
According to Water & San chair Joe Farrell, the sentiments were equally divided during their Aug. 28 board meeting, where fluoride wasn’t on the agenda but was raised anyway.
“We had four members from the public come forward at our public comment portion of the agenda,” Farrell said. “Two were pro fluoride and two were against. I kept the peace,” he joked.
It isn’t an overstatement to say the fluoride issue has become divisive.
Redko said, “The scare tactics employed by the anti fluoride campaign are harmful and misleading. The residents of our valley, especially Snowmass Village, should review this benchmark decision when researching the topic of water fluoridation.”
Water & San’s Hamby has described local opinions as being “Passionate on both sides.”
Farrell reiterated that “over 3,000 surveys will be going out shortly to Snowmass Village and Brush Creek metro district customers. A decision to add fluoride or keep it out of our water treatment program will be made in October. I hope.”