SIREN—To continue to fluoridate the water supply was the question of the day for the Siren Village Board at last week’s meeting.
“It costs the village about $1,000 a year to fluoridate the water,” village administrator Martin Shutt told the board. “Mike (Public Works Director Mike Bentley) brought it up as a way to cut expenses.”
He said the village is always having to take money from the general fund to subsidize the water department.
Several members of the public argued against the proposal of discontinuing the practice.
“Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease — four times more prevalent than asthma,” county Public Health Supervisor Carol Larson told the board.
She said fluoridating the drinking water helps combat that disease.
Larson urged the trustees to look at options other than ceasing fluoridating the village water supply.
Siren Dental Office dentist Sheldon Olesen told the board that fluoride in the water has big benefits for both kids and adults.
“For every dollar spent on prevention, you save $38 in dental services,” he pointed out.
“Older Americans are especially susceptible to tooth decay because of exposed root surfaces and mouth dryness that may result from many medications,” dentist Gary Kaefer, who has offices in Webster and Grantsburg, added.
He said water fluoridation benefits Americans of all ages and many health and dental organizations worldwide have endorsed the safety of fluoride in the water supply.
“I don’t like the angle we are going at — it seems like we’re doing something ahead of the gun,” trustee Dave Doty complained. “If we have to make a change, we should do it all at once.”
He was referring to the fact that as of Dec. 1, 2013, the Department of Natural Resources will demand that all municipalities use some sort of disinfection on their public water supply.
“I’m not sure of that time schedule,” Shutt said after the meeting. “But it’s coming.”
“Villages will have three years to comply,” she said of the ruling.
“To comply, we would have to chlorinate our water supply, and to do that we would have to add to the pump house,” Shutt explained. “You can’t pump fluoride and chloride from the same place — it’s not safe.”
And then there’s the cost.
“We need to develop a two or three year plan to get us out of the red in the water-sewer department,” Doty indicated.
“I think we all know what the answer is but we’re trying to put off raising the water rates,” trustee Dave Alden replied. “It’ll come down to an increase somewhere but no one, including me, wants to hear it.”
But all of that was putting the cart ahead of the horse.
Trustee Rudy Mothes said there was enough time to deal with both issues.
“Let’s table the action to end water fluoridation and have our administrator start researching chlorination,” he proposed.
The rest of the board agreed.
Shutt said Siren and Grantsburg are the only villages in Burnett County currently fluoridating their water supply.
In other business…