The York Water Co. has proposed a rate hike with the state Public Utility Commission of about $6 a month for residential users, $16 for commercial users and $99 for industrial users.
What would we get for that extra money?

Well, for one thing, it would be an investment in assuring a continued supply of good, clean water in our community.

The company, which serves about 180,000 customers in York County, says it needs the extra revenue to fund about $30 million in capital investments, including reinforcing, replacing and relining aging water mains, as well as to upgrade facilities and equipment.

That’s important work to make sure we don’t fall behind with maintaining vital infrastructure.

Still, a 16 percent hike in the aftermath of the “Great Recession” seems a bit steep – especially in light of a report in early May that the company’s operating revenues and income were up in the first quarter of 2010.

The PUC should take a hard look at the rate hike proposal and pare it down as much as possible to spare some pain for customers already hurting from joblessness and stagnant wages.

But from our perspective, there’s one way to make this rate hike proposal go down a lot easier:

Give us something extra for the extra money.

Start fluoridating our community’s water supply.

For years, public health advocates have been after the water company to add fluoride to improve dental health in our area.

For years, company officials have resisted.

The rationale in the past has seemed to us like a cop-out: Unless state or federal law requires the company to add fluoride, it will not do so.

And lawmakers have not shown much initiative in pushing water companies to fluoridate.

So children in York County have been deprived of a water additive that could improve dental health and save money.

Yes, we know fluoridation is controversial locally. This editorial will no doubt be jeered by conspiracy theorists who will cite rambling Web sites that allege fluoridation is a plot by the aluminum industry to dispose of its poisonous waste in your water supply.

These are the same people who, ironically, probably wear tinfoil hats to keep the government from controlling their minds.

The bottom line is that the most respected medical and dental authorities in the nation say fluoridation is a safe and effective process. It’s been approved by the following organizations whose expertise we trust:

• The American Dental Association.

• The American Medical Association.

• The U.S. Surgeon General.

• The Centers for Disease Control. The CDC has lauded fluoridation as one of the greatest public health boons of the last 50 years.

A few years ago, when York Water Co. bought the West Manheim Township water system, local officials wisely insisted that the company continue to add fluoride for those residents as a condition of the sale. The company agreed.

So it’s not as if the company doesn’t know how to do it.

And we haven’t heard of a rash of fluoride poisonings in West Manheim.

Why won’t the company, as part of its capital improvement plans, provide all of its customers with the same benefit?

Make an investment in good local dental health.