Public Works director outlines concerns about fluoride
In an email to Eureka Springs Alderman David Mitchell, Public Works Director Dwayne Allen cited a list of concerns about the state's policies for training workers handling fluoridation systems and for notifying cities about the amount of fluoride being injected into the city's water supply.
"The training is vastly inadequate and had to be rushed in for different regions," he said in the email. "I was certified in fluoride, by Mr. Greenway of the Arkansas Department of Health several years ago during a 24-hour course and now half a day is considered sufficient.
"As you know, the state is not open to discussion at this time but Eureka Springs has unfortunately become a test lab for the effects of fluoride on century old water mains," he said in the email.
Allen said he spoke at a meeting with Arkansas Department of Health officials last year about their plans to implement the law passed in 2011 requiring fluoride in certain water systems. Allen said he asked if health department officials could tighten Centers for Disease Control regulations and have Delta Dental's help with training workers, but the officials got angry and didn't listen.
He continued in the email, citing other concerns about fluoride levels.
"Everyone knows fluoride in high concentrations is harmful and still they [ADH] do not have to notify me until they reach 4 (milligrams per liter) and if you can imagine not stop injecting till they hit 10mg./l."
He also said in the email that he plans on expanding water sampling for the city and thinks the city can buy regents to test for lead, aluminum and fluoride.
"A fluoride analyzer is over $6,000 but we have a spectrophotometer at the plant, which we use for nutrient monitoring," the email said.
Allen also said he is checking on the costs for testing fluoride, lead and aluminum levels in a water system like Eureka's that is riddled with aging pipes and infrastructure problems.
"Lead tests cost about $15 each if you have a separate lead unit, which we do not. For lead, you cannot have any flow for at least six hours. I will compare the higher cost to purchasing equipment. Of course, we are only certified for certain substances, but if we detect any high readings we can have a lab verify them."
Allen said in the email that he tested for lead and copper in 10 spots before fluoride was added to the water supply a few weeks ago but the results have not come back from the state's lab.
"At some point I hope to have our lab certification expanded, which will save us quite a bit," the email said.
The Lovely County Citizen obtained a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding and contract between the Carroll-Boone Water District and The City of Eureka Springs for water services, dated Dec. 18, 1998. The contract states that, "the District shall produce a treated water which will neither corrode nor scale the transmission line or distribution systems of the user Cities under the normal range of domestic operations."
Resident Becky Gillette during Monday night's city council meeting said that CBWD is not in compliance with the contract because fluoride is corrosive.
"Corrosion of pipes is a fluoride concern," she said. "Carroll-Boone is supposed to be testing chemicals regularly and I asked them for the tests for arsenic, lead, barium and aluminum in the water and they said they don't test for that. They aren't testing chemicals onsite before putting them in the water."
CBWD also failed to properly test for bacteria in the water supply last year, according to a report
The Arkansas Department of Health's Annual Drinking Water Quality Report for 2014 for CBWD said that the district "failed to take bacteriological samples in multiple sampling periods" and that as a corrective action, it would resume monitoring for bacteria "as required by state and federal regulations."
The report also addressed lead, saying "lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing."
"We are responsible for providing high-quality drinking water, but cannot control the variety of materials used in plumbing components," the report said.
One site in the city tested over the action level for lead at 0.015 ppm, according to a 2014 Annual Drinking Water Quality report published by Public Works. The report said the results are from the last monitoring period in 2012 and the city is "currently on a reduced monitoring schedule and required to sample once every three years for lead and copper at our customers' taps."
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's website, if lead concentrations exceed an action level of 15 parts per billion or copper concentrations exceed an action level of 1.3 parts per million in more than 10 percent of customer taps sampled, the city must take corrective actions and inform water users about steps they should take to protect their health and "may have to replace lead service lines under their control."
Gillette said that because the state's health board officials failed to answer Mitchell's questions and concerns earlier this year, the state is violating the Administrative Procedures Act.
"David cited concerns about the corrosion of aging sewer lines leaching out lead and human health effects at his presentation, and the state health board has never replied," she said.