Federal funds available to Columbiana for fluoridation

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 19, 2002

The Columbiana Water Works Board could receive a federal grant of nearly $35,000 should it vote to fluoridate the drinking water it sells.

Mac Spurlin, state fluoridation specialist of the Bureau of Family Health Services for the Alabama Department of Public Health, reported the possibility of the grant to pay for the necessary equipment to provide fluoridation at the board’s Tuesday, Nov. 12 meeting.

On hand to speak in favor of fluoridation was Columbiana attorney Frank Head. And present to speak against fluoridation was Larry Moore of the Bethel Water System.

Located on Highway 61 at Wilsonville, the Bethel Water System

purchases its water from the Columbiana Water Works.

Spurlin said the grant money is being made available through the nationwide Center for Disease Control and Prevention, headquartered in Atlanta, Ga.

He said the grant to Columbiana would be administered through the Alabama Department of Public Health and would come to the water board in the form of a reimbursement.

Spurlin said funds to add fluoride to drinking water are being made available in 46 states and the District of Columbia.

He said Alabama will get the federal dollars in three increments of $55,000 per year.

While Spurlin said the grant would pay for all of the needed equipment to fluoridate the water, he noted that grant funds will not cover the associated

labor costs for installation and cannot be used for construction.

Spurlin said he has about $35,000 set aside for Columbiana should the board decide to fluoridate the water.

However, he said the grant period is on its last leg.

He said he would like to use all of the money available to Alabama before the end of July 2003, and he would like to have a decision from the Columbiana Water Works by December or January.

He said he would prefer not to turn the money back to the federal government.

According to equipment cost estimates provided by Spurlin, a metering pump and related items will cost $7,137; material handling and safety equipment will cost $1,276; analysis equipment will cost $553.50; four 2,200-gallon storage tanks will cost $12,800; four day tanks will cost $800; four chemical transfer pumps will cost $3,800; and four containment areas will cost $25,400 for a total of $34.366.50.

Head stated that the Columbiana City Council has already passed a resolution in support of fluoridation.

He also said fluoridation is supported by the U.S. Surgeon General and various medical associations including the American and Canadian Medical Associations and the American Dental Association.

Also according to Head, as of September, 82 percent of the water supplies in Alabama are fluoridated, and about 150 million people in the United States have fluoridated water.

Head noted that not fluoridating the water is &uot;going against the flow.&uot;

Spurlin told the water board he grew up without fluoridated water and has a lot of capped teeth and decay.

He said his two daughters have grown up with fluoridation and one has one filling and the other has none.

The fluoridation specialist said he &uot;highly recommended&uot; fluoridation from a personal perspective and as a parent.

Spurlin said people are going to say fluoridation makes water taste bad, but he said no one will be able to taste it.

He also said he would inspect Columbiana’s four water sites and help get the fluoridation operations adjusted properly.

Moore said he wanted to remind the Columbiana Water Works that the Bethel Water Authority is still out there and that he foresees the growth of the community in the future as it has grown for the past 10 years.

He said as the Chelsea area begins to fill up, growth will filter down into his area.

Moore said a development bringing 500 people would mean a 50 percent increase.

As to the fluoride issue, Moore said the Bethel Water System was &uot;not in favor&uot; at its last annual meeting.

He provided the water board with information he said was gathered from the Internet.

He pointed out that Sodium Fluoride is a hazardous material and that the issue of fluoridation is not &uot;cut and dried,&uot; because studies were &uot;nebulous&uot;

on both sides.

Moore called fluoride a hazardous waste and asked what better way to dilute it than putting it in everyone’s drinking water in the world.

He noted that there were court cases pending in other states around fluoridation.

He also said there were issues with fluoridation involving bone cancer, and he urged the board not to make the decision to add fluoride &uot;lightly.&uot;

Head countered, &uot;You can get just about anything off the Internet from people with various agendas.&uot;

He also said that fluoridation has been going on since the 1940s with no reported health

problems that could be shown.

The board took no action on the fluoridation issue but accepted the written information provided by both Spurlin and Moore