The Schuylkill Haven Borough Council voted Wednesday to add fluoride to the water supply.
By a 4-3 vote, the council made the decision. The issue was not on the agenda for the meeting.
Voting in favor of adding the fluoride were council President Marlin Berger Jr. and members Ruth Tucci, Paul Bedway and Kurt Montz. Jerry Bowman, Roger Spotts and Tom Gordon voted against it.
Bedway made the motion and Tucci seconded it. There was then a more than 30 minute discussion on the issue, according to those present.
Police Chief Jeff Walcott said he did not want fluoride in his water.
“You’re taking away my right because I don’t want to be treated with it,” he told the council.
Resident Art Salisbury, 54, said he has health issues and is not supposed to have it in his water.
“It’s already out of the water, why put it back in?” he asked.
Bedway said Thursday he was not approached by any members of the public recently and not even in the last year about the topic.
“I just think that when they took it out, it was the wrong thing to do,” he said about a February 2010 decision by the borough council to remove the additive, which was the eliminated in 2011.
Berger said Thursday, “I think its something that was very beneficial to get back into our water supply to benefit our youth for their teeth for not having cavities.”
As to why the issue did not go to a committee first for additional time, he said, “It didn’t go to committee when it went out,” in the 2010 vote.
Berger has occasionally said in council meetings how he believes that fluoride is a good thing to have in the water supply.
Montz could not be reached for comment. Tucci said she voted “yes” because she believes it should be available.
Those council members voting “no” – like those voting for it – have strong opinions on the matter.
“I don’t feel like forcing people to have it and ingest it is a good idea because you are not giving them a choice,” Bowman said.
He knew of residents in town that have health issues who can’t have the additive in the water. Those residents might have to buy bottled water, he said.
Spotts said he also felt strongly that residents should be given a choice “when they open the tap for water.”
“Why take away another freedom. Why would we want to do that?” Spotts said.
Those in Cressona who use the water would also be impacted, he said
Mayor Mike Devlin also is against the use of fluoride in the water supply.
“I’m definitely opposed to putting the fluoride back in,” Devlin said Thursday.
Some people might not be able to tolerate it and there are precautions to be taken, he said.
“The level is different for everyone. It depends on your age and your weight,” he said.
“I believe that fluoride is good for your teeth when it’s applied topically but not ingested,” Devlin said.
Borough Manager Scott Graver said Thursday that a permit has to be applied for from the state Department of Environmental Protection to add the substance to the water.
Colleen Connolly, northeast regional spokeswoman for DEP, confirmed a permit would need to be applied for and reviewed by DEP. She said there is no time frame of how long the review will take.
“It typically takes 30 to 60 days,” she said.
Borough residents seemed mixed on the issue Thursday when asked.
“That’s a huge impact on our everyday life,” said Will Parraz, 25, who recently moved from Philadelphia to the area for job opportunities.
He agreed it was good for your teeth.
Brad Hoffman, 39, said he has lived in the borough his whole life and hasn’t noticed a difference since fluoride was eliminated.
Sharon Stephen, 51, said she thought it was a good idea to prevent cavities.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control said water fluoridation is “safe and effective.”
The CDC said 74.6 percent of those using public water systems have access to fluoridated water.
However, precautions should be taken when fluoride is in the water.
For example, it says it can result in dental fluorosis, a change in color in tooth enamel for young children.