THE CITY is spending $10,000 to upgrade its fluoridation system so that city staff will receive an alarm via their cellphones should too much of the substance be injected into the city’s water supply.

The upgrade should be finished in a week or so, ending a period of several months when when the substance has been only sporadically placed in the water supply.

Based on flow it tells the dosing pump how much to pump into the system,” said city works manager Robert Hoekstra of the new computerized system.

We have the ability to know [immediately] when to stop the pump, before we didn’t have that ability, we took representative samples around town.”

He says he has never seen an situation where too much fluoride has been pumped into the water supply and that a failure of the new computer system would be an “extremely rare” occurrence.

Up until now, the city could not do real time analysis of fluoride and relied on manual testing done daily around town which is still a part of the program, said Hoekstra.

Chlorine is also added by a similar analyzer to the water supply.

News of the new fluoride pumping system comes at a time when the city has been asked to stop the practice which is meant to reduce or prevent tooth decay.

Terrace is only one of four municipalities in British Columbia to still put the chemical in the water supply.

Appearing before city council Feb. 9, local anti-fluoride campaigner Barry Prince presented a petition containing more than 400 signatures of Terrace and Thornhill residents.

This was his third attempt to convince council that the city should join the tide of municipalities around Canada who are stopping their fluorination programs.

There was little debate, though councillors asked him about the petition process.

James Cordeiro made the motion to receive the petition for information which was seconded by councillor Brian Downie.

Deputy mayor Lynne Christiansen was about to move on in what was a busy agenda, when councillor Michael Prevost interjected:

I think it would be beneficial for council to request [the] Northern Health [Autrhority] do a presentation just to provide a leveled approach in terms of best practice, current studies, because for us to make a decision moving forward we need to have some balanced information.”

A motion to do so was carried.

Prince was vaccompanied by local naturopath Daniel Yee who said stopping fluorinating was a “no brainer.”

I was actually quite shocked and really surprised that Terrace is still fluorinating their water,” Yee said during his presentation.

He pointed out that children exposed to industrial levels of fluoride in China, according to a study in the journal Lancet, showed an 8-10 point I.Q. loss which is the difference between average and below average intelligence.

He said forcing fluoride through the water supply, even in small amounts, is contrary to notions of consent enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Prince concluded by saying he would challenge the city in court if no referendum is held, or if fluoride is not removed from Terrace water.

This practice is going to stop one way or another, or we will be back again,” he told council.

City officials counted the number of names on the petition presented by Prince and found that the total was 260 Terrace residents, 109 from the regional district and 38 of unknown residency, for a total of 422.

The city’s fluoride program costs an average of $30,000 per year. The fluorosilicic acid itself is purchased in barrels from a supplier called Cleartech Industries Inc. at an annual cost of approximately $20,000, according to the city.