WATERLOO — The Seneca County Board of Health is exploring the cost of fluoridating the county’s municipal water supplies.
“It’s very preliminary at this point,” said Vickie Swinehart, county public health director. “We’ve asked the county’s grant writer, Peter Brown, to see if there are grants out there for equipment and other startup costs and will go from there,” she said.
According to the minutes of the Jan. 20 Board of Health meeting, County Engineer Jason McCormick questioned the cost savings if the fluoridation system were removed from the water produced at the former Seneca Army Depot water treatment plant in Romulus, which serves the Romulus area. McCormick is in charge of the county’s takeover of administration of the county water district and two sewer districts from the Town of Romulus.
The water produced at the Romulus plant on Seneca Lake is the only fluoridated water system in the county. The villages of Seneca Falls, Waterloo and Ovid do not fluoridate their water. McCormick told the board in January that the cost saving of removing the fluoridation system would be negligible and it was decided that fluoridation equipment would remain in that water supply.
Fluoride is known to be a strong tooth decay prevention substance, but it has detractors who object to possible harmful effects on some who drink the water. Some call it “forced medication.”
Whether the topic comes up at the 4 p.m. Feb. 17 Board of Health meeting depends on what Brown’s efforts produce, Swinehart said.
“We realize there are pros and cons on both sides of the issue that will be studied before we make any decision,” Swinehart said. “Personally, I feel the pros outweigh the cons,” she added.
If the board decides to promote fluoridation, the issue will be brought to the public health committee of the Board of Supervisors. Swinehart said the county takeover of the water and sewer districts and the talk of a countywide water authority make fluoridation a countywide issue.
The five-member Board of Health meets in the conference room of the Public Health Department, 31 Thurber Drive.