ROGERSVILLE — Water superintendent Sean Hatchett told the Rogersville Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday studies have shown that putting fluoride into public water has little effect on the oral health of those who drink it.

Fluoride, does, however, cost the Rogersville Water Department $40,000 annually to add to the city water supply.

It also corrodes the plumbing, and for those two reasons Hatchett has proposed removing fluoride from the city’s water treatment process.

On Tuesday, the Rogersville Water Commission voted to begin the process of cutting fluoride out of the water system’s treatment process.

The first step is to send out letters with the bills of all customers giving them 30 days notice of the intent to eliminate fluoride from the water.

That notice will also invite customers to the next Water Commission meeting, during which they can state their opinion on the matter.

City Attorney Bill Phillips noted that although there was an advisory referendum in the 1950s to add fluoride to Rogersville’s water treatment process, it is not necessary to have another referendum to remove the fluoride.

State law requires the 30-day written notice to customers  before the Water Commission can vote to remove the fluoride, Phillips told the board.

“They have to recommend it to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen,” Phillips said. “Then it would come before the BMA (in an ordinance), and the BMA may want to hold a public hearing on it.”

Hatchett told the BMA Tuesday that many water systems are choosing to stop using fluoride.

“Basically it’s not doing anything except helping people prevent cavities between ages 12 to 14,” Hatchett told the board. “The largest study ever done in the United States was in two different communities, one fluoridated and one not. There was no significant difference in either one of them.”

Hatchett added, “It’s highly corrosive, and actually, when you come right down to it, it’s a poison because it’s not natural fluoride. It’s hydrochloric acid that’s used, and an overabundance of it can be corrosive or harmful, and it is corrosive to pipes in the water system.”

Fluoride costs Rogersville $116 per one million gallons of treated water produced, and the city produces about 30 million gallons per month.

Alderman Mark DeWitte, who also sits on the commission, noted that the $40,000 in savings doesn’t take into account additional wear and tear on the system caused by fluoride.

“It’s $40,000 (savings) in chemicals, and then a potential of more with its corrosive nature to the pipes,” DeWitte said. “This can save some infrastructure too.”