The decision about whether or not to keep fluoride in Scappoose’s drinking water is headed to voters and set for a March special election, but voters will also have a chance to file a petition for review of the ballot title.

A city notice emailed to The Spotlight Dec. 26 outlines the purpose of the proposed ballot measure and lists the ballot title with the caption, “Determines whether to continue adding fluoride to the Scapppose drinking water,” and the question, “Shall the city of Scappoose continue adding fluoride to the city’s drinking water?”

It costs the city $5,000 annually to fluoridate its water.

The city has been adding approximately 0.7 milligrams of fluoride to every liter of water since 2000, but the practice was questioned earlier this year by then-City Councilor Judie Ingham.

Ingham and Councilor Mark Reed said they were worried about the health effects of adding fluoride to drinking water, and Ingham claimed the practice contributed to her son’s case of fluorosis.

Dental fluorosis is a discoloration of tooth enamel caused by excessive exposure to fluoride.

Dentists and health experts across the nation, however, point out that adding fluoride to water is a safe, effective and inexpensive way to combat tooth decay and aid dental health.

The special election is expected to cost the city approximately $3,000 to hold, said Scappose City Manager Jon Hanken.

Hanken had urged the council to pass the decision on to voters, but Ingham, along with other councilors, decided they would prefer to hold a public hearing on Sept. 4. A handful of people, representing both sides of the debate, showed up. Afterwards, the council decided to put the question to a ballot measure.

Fluoride was first added to city water supplies 65 years ago. In 2010, 66.2 percent of the United States’ population drank fluoridated water in their homes. In Oregon, only 22.6 percent of the population gets fluoridated water.

Portland’s City Council unanimously approved a plan to add fluoride by March 2014 at a meeting in September, but the decision met with furious public opposition. Now, Portland voters will decide in May whether or not fluoride will be added to the water.

To file a petition for review of the Scappoose ballot in the Columbia County Circuit Court, an elector can file no later than 5 p.m., Jan. 8.