A bare majority of South Blount County Utility District customers have voted in favor of continuing fluoridation of their water.

“Just barely,” District Manager Henry Durant said on Friday. “It was like 51 percent to 49 percent. I think the fluoride was ahead by 84 votes (out of about 4,679).”

Four years after a controversial decision to beginning fluoridating its water, SBCUD decided to poll its customers about whether to continue the practice. They vote occurred during May.

The utility’s Board of Commissioners will consider the results at its July 2 meeting, Durant said. “They will get a copy of report. They can do whatever they want.”

The addition of fluoride to the water supply, a procedure to reduce dental cavities that is in widespread use around the country, has been the subject of local controversy since the SBCUD board originally voted not to fluoridate the water when the district opened its new plant in July 2004.

In 2008, however, the board voted to begin fluoridation at the request of then-Blount County Mayor Jerry Cunningham.

Fluoridation of the water supply ultimately began that May.

Later that year, Linda King, of Citizens for Blount County’s Future, filed a lawsuit in Blount County Chancery Court to force the utility to answer questions regarding the fluoridating its water supply, but the suit was later dismissed.