Valparaiso group weighs continued fluoridation of water supply
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent May 20, 2014 10:24PM
Updated: June 24, 2014 6:27AM
VALPARAISO — A seven-member Fluoride Commission will begin considering whether to continue adding fluoride to the city’s water supply.
Led by facilitator Stuart G. Walesh, the group will meet at 4 p.m Wednesday in the Valparaiso City Utilities room, 205 Billings St. The commission should provide an answer by September.
Utilities Director Steve Poulos said a group approached the City Council about six years ago to cease water fluoridation, and people have been looking at fluoride both nationally and globally, with Dallas the most recent Texas city to stop adding the mineral to water.
“We felt it would make sense to get out in front of this,” Poulos said.
Utilities Board President Dave Bengs will preside over the commission.
Board member Mark Thiros will be a member of the commission, as will other residents: attorney Kevin Steele, City Council member Tim Daly, nurse Jennifer Waldo, chemistry professor John Schoer of Valparaiso University and neuropsychology professor Dr. Judith Harrington.
They’ll look at the potential for harm if large amounts of flouride are ingested over time and at what groups like the American Dental Association and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say to recommend fluoridation.
“We’ve been adding fluoride to the water since the late 1950s on the advice of credible health experts,” Poulos said.
There’s no water quality law requiring fluoridation, but since the 1940s, health organizations have recommended it to prevent tooth decay.
That was before fluoride was readily available in food, from dentists, in toothpaste and in mouth rinses, so the question is “should the public water supply still be the method to deliver fluoride,” Poulos said.
If the commission recommends continuing to add it, the Valparaiso Utilities Board will vote on the matter, then the City Council will likely pass an ordinance to make a regulation, Poulos said.
It costs the city $30,000 to $35,000 a year to fluoridate, and the utilities department must take precautions when storing it and adding it to the water supply.
City Utilities will pay Walesh, an environmental engineer, $125 an hour out of utility funds.