The results of the non-binding vote on fluoride in Snowmass Village should be known by next Monday, according to district water manager Kit Hamby.
The question asks the Snowmass Water & Sanitation District ‘s 3,400 users whether fluoride should be restored to the water system after being removed on July 17 following a 3-1 board decision. That has been controversial and hotly debated in public meetings, letters to the editor and opinion pieces. A statewide association representing dental practitioners entered the debate as well, by funding pro-fluoride ads in the local papers.
On Oct. 21, the Water & Sanitation Board will review and discuss the results of the mail-in ballot at its meeting, which Hamby said may be moved to the Snowmass Club to accommodate the anticipated crowds.
The survey results will be seen as an “advisory tool, we’re going to use it as a guide,” board member Joe Farrell said last month during a Rotary meeting at the Viceroy Hotel. Both he and colleague Dave Dawson, who emphasized the results will be “taken into consideration” were non-committal about whether an overwhelming vote would change Water & San’s earlier decision.
Hamby said close to 1,100 votes had been received, with some results still arriving on Wednesday via U.S. Mail at the accounting office of Dalby, Wendland & Co. in Grand Junction
“We don’t know what the results are,” said Hamby. “The last day the survey had to be postmarked was Oct. 2 and some surveys have still been trickling in.”
The decision to poll users came upon the request of Mayor Markey Butler, who asked in August the fluoride discussion be reopened after some in the community said they were taken off-guard by its removal. Hamby told her the fluoride vote came after months of deliberation and study, but did agree to reopen the discussion.
The survey will cost between $7,000-10,000 and will come out of this special district’s administrative budget.
What is also taking more time than expected is recording several hundred comments that were included with the surveys, Hamby said. He added that the large number of write-in comments surprised those who were doing the tabulations.
Dentist Karina Redko, who has been active on the pro-fluoride side, said, “There has been ?tremendous support from the medical and scientific communities for reinstating Snowmass Village water fluoridation. We are extremely hopeful the results of the survey will demonstrate that a majority of the community support fluoridation.
She noted how the debate over fluoride has shifted from the issue of safety to the right to choose, adding that many don’t know the water is already being treated with chlorine.
A request for a response from Cris Cuda, who has been outspoken against fluoride, was not received by presstime.