Drinking water will be compromised
EUREKA SPRINGS -- There is not much citizens who don't want fluoride in their drinking water can do now that Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe has signed Act 197 into law, mandating fluoride for all water systems that serve 5,000 or more customers.
But at the Carroll-Boone Water District meeting April 21, Berryville resident Lisa Price-Backs asked the water board to use "a common sense approach to fluoride."
Price-Backs, who is an L.P.N., said she was at the meeting as a concerned citizen and not representing any group, although she is associated with the Clean Water Association of Carroll County and with Secure Arkansas.
She asked whether it would be possible to have a "moratorium" on fluoride.
"We need transparency and need to know what country of origin the fluoride is coming from and what is in the fluoride," she told the board during public comment.
Another attendee at the meeting said, "We understand the employees are against fluoride."
"We can't get into who's against it or not," said James Yates, board chairman. "Right now, there's a law."
The attendee asked whether the water district could decide not to use fluoride.
"We'd probably lose our jobs and there might be ramifications," Yates replied. "It's the law, we just don't have a choice."
At last count, the Carroll-Boone Water District served around 26,000 people, said office manager Jim Allison.
"It hasn't been updated, so we probably serve 29,000 to 30,000 since the census," he said.
All 12 water operator employees at Carroll-Boone are against fluoride, he has said in the past, and have gone to Little Rock to testify against its use.
On two occasions in the past, the issue came up at Carroll-Boone among the four founding member cities, who each have an equal vote on such issues. Harrison, Green Forest and Berryville councils all voted to add fluoride, but Eureka Springs passed the decision on to its voters, who rejected it both times, killing the action for the water district.
Brad Hammond, one of the water district's consulting engineers with McGoodwin, Williams & Yates, said they will look into how to comply with the law.
"We're accumulating information," he said.
Board member Frank "Lad" Brooks, a dentist, asked whether fluoride would affect the filter lining at the water treatment plant.
"It would be added downstream of filtration," Hammond replied. "But no, it's inert."
Asked whether the fluoride could be added below Eureka Springs' waterline, Hammond said Carroll-Boone probably can't do that "because they have to do it for their customer base, and can't single out customers not to have it, is the way the law is being interpreted."
Brooks said after the meeting he is "not political" with regard to the issue, but that he has read the studies.
"I always try to consider the source, and the sources for it are usually highly respected scientific sources," he said, "and usually the ones that don't promote it are not mainstream sources."
He said he has only seen dental fluorosis -- a pitting and staining of teeth from receiving too much fluoride during tooth development -- in his practice in people who drank water with naturally occurring fluoride, "but never from water fluoridation."
"The only statement we want to make," Yates said during the meeting, "is that we will do our best to comply with the guidelines set by the regulatory authorities."
In other business, the board:
* Approved the six-month financial statements. Allison said the water district's expenses are below budget for the period.
* Approved the lowest of three bids, from Seven Valleys Construction for $316,000, to renovate the west side plant filters with a new coating, which is expected to last 50 years.
The board has set its next meeting for July 28 at 10 a.m. at the Freeman-Raney Water Treatment Plant on Hwy. 187, west of Eureka Springs. The public is welcome.