Potsdam can expect new fluoridation system in spring
Saturday, November 9, 2019 - 6:18 pm

BY CRAIG FREILICH

North Country This Week

POTSDAM -- The village can expect its new water fluoridation system to be in place next spring.

At the Board of Trustees meeting Oct. 21, Mike Tamblin and Charles Prior of Environmental Design and Research (EDR), a consulting engineering firm, reported they are about to open bidding for purchase and installation of new fluoride hardware for the village water plant.

“Department of Health approval has been received and we’re putting together a bid package” to go out to potential vendors,” Tamblin said.

“We expect about three bidders, and we expect to have the bids by January,” he said. The board, with EDR’s input, will likely vote to award the bid and installation can begin, with completion in the spring.

The village will be moving from a liquid fluoridation system to one that “mixes dry fluoride salts and pumps it right into the drinking water supply.” It is a small system that is computer controlled, with the rate of infusion based on usage, according to Tamblin.

Village Administrator Greg Thompson warned trustees in July 2017 that the equipment the village was using to add fluoride to municipal water– a popular tooth decay prevention measure in the U.S. for decades – was old and needed repair or replacement or, failing that, removal of the equipment and abandonment of the village’s aim to stem cavities, especially in children.

Arrival at the goal of replacing the equipment and maintaining the service has led trustees and citizens on a circuitous path through hearings and long public comment sessions at board meetings.

Adding fluoride to public water systems has been controversial since the programs began decades ago. The preponderance of research has bolstered the advocates, but other research refutes the benefits, in some cases claiming that the fluoride, even in minute quantities, is bad for human health.

During the course of debate in the village, numerous health practitioners from around the county and outside experts promoted their conclusions that fluoride was effective in preventing dental problems, presented evidence that ending fluoridation demonstrably resulted in more tooth decay, and that there was no credible data that showed fluoridation of water for cavity prevention was dangerous to human health.

Local opponents, who also brought in expert outside opinion, countered with research on their side of the argument that fluoride was dangerous, and some spoke of personal beliefs that fluoride had bad effects on health in their families.

In the end, after explorations of applicable law, the Board of Trustees voted 4-1 last year to go ahead and replace the aging system. Administrator Thompson said the new system will be cheaper, and easier to run and to handle the materials.

Once the installation of the new system is complete, the state DOH will inspect it “as part of the normal periodic water plant inspection,” which is usually once a year, Tamblin said.