WALKER — The Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to institute a water fluoridation program to help fight tooth decay in the community.

The decision during Monday’s meeting ended months of planning and discussions about the program which promises to afford Walker residents a defense against tooth decay and other dental problems.

The cost of obtaining necessary equipment to begin the fluoridation process will be largely borne by the state’s Department of Health and Hospitals. A grant from DHH that had been delayed for several months has won final approval, Mayor Travis Clark told the council.

Dr. C.J. Richard, a Walker dentist, told the council that the primary beneficiaries of the fluoride treatment would be infants, children and youths through their teenage years.

He added that fluoride in the water should help reduce tooth decay for all residents.

Richard said that he had researched other communities of similar size to Walker and had learned that the cost of the treatment would be about $500 per month.

Noting that the town has about 4,200 water “hookups,” he said that the cost breaks out at about 13 cents for each water user.

Richard conceded the fluoride program will be something of an extra burden on the town’s Water Department crews but said that the equipment is not difficult to use and has a fail-safe feature.

“This is a good thing to do, but it’s your decision,” Richard said., “The benefits have been proven over and over again for many years. I recommend that you accept the grant now and move ahead with this fluoride program.”