If you get water from the Carroll Boone Water District, your water soon will probably be more expensive and it will have fluoride in it.
Eureka Springs, Berryville, Green Forest, Harrison, Alpena, Cottonwood Water and Southwest Boone Water customers will be affected, officials said.
Water issues took up a good chunk of time at Thursday night’s Harrison City Council committee meetings with Public Works director Wade Phillips explaining those issues.
Phillips said the state legislature in 2011 passed a law requiring all water systems servicing more than 5,000 customers to fluoridate water. That was put on hold until grant money could be secured.
But CBWD recently informed officials that it will begin fluoridation in the next couple of months.
“We’re going to have fluoride is my expectation,” Phillips said.
Alderman Joel Williams asked if fluoridated water was safe. Phillips, acknowledging that there has been controversy among skeptics who think fluoride causes health problems, said the answer depended on who you ask.
“Is it healthy to drink fluoride?” Williams asked, adding that he’d been told it’s a poison.
Phillips said fluoride, much like other chemicals used to treat municipal water, is a poison, but only in sufficient concentrations.
He also said Harrison’s water was fluoridated prior to development of the CBWD.
Because state law mandates fluoridation, the council had no real power to stop it and Phillips’ presentation was informational only. He said fluoridation won’t cost the city any extra money thanks to grant dollars.
But another matter concerning water from CBWD could end up seeing water rates increase.
In September 2013, the council was informed that CBWD planned to move forward with its 20-year, long-range plan to install a parallel line from the source at Beaver Lake all the way to Harrison to ensure a good source of potable water.
That project would require bonded debt for the cost of estimates between $14 million and $17 million. BCWD asked for resolutions of support from cities on the system — Eureka Springs, Berryville, Green Forest and Harrison — before undertaking the project.
The full council unanimously adopted the supporting resolution in October 2013.
Phillips told aldermen Thursday night that CBWD originally estimated it would have to raise water rates to cities on the system by about 50 cents per 1,000 gallons, but the actual increase is set to be 25 cents per 1,000 gallons.
The questions was whether the council wanted to pass along the increase to residential and business customers as well.
Harrison paid to build the line from Denver Road in Carroll County to Little Arkansas, so it technically owns the water. The city then sells water to the Southwest Boone County Water Association, Alpena and Cottonwood Water.
Phillips told aldermen that the increase, if passed along to city customers, would amount to about 40 cents a month on the minimum water bill.
Aldermen wanted to know how much it would cost the city if it didn’t pass the increase along to customers. Phillips said he would get that information before the next full council meeting.
Aldermen were also reminded that an annual water rate increase based on the Consumer Price Index is set to take effect this summer, so they asked Phillips to estimate how much water bills would increase with that increase added.
The Public Works and Transportation Committee voted to present the increase to the full council, but it didn’t make any recommendation concerning whether the additional cost would be passed along to customers.