Board of Supervisors Discuss Fluoridation of County Water
For about two hours last night, the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors were briefed and discussed with medical professionals the issue of fluoridation of county water. Additionally, over 20 individuals, mostly medical professionals, spoke during the public comment period.
Fluoridation of Spotsylvania’s water was highlighted publicly several times by a Spotsy resident starting in June 2017. However, Free Lance-Star reporting disclosed that this individual had advocated to have fluoride removed from the county water supply, to at least one supervisor, as far back at January 2015.
I’m not a medical professional and won’t debate the cost/benefits of water fluoridation but will provide links to the Rappahannock Area Health Director’s presentation material from the January 23rd meeting below.
After the debate, nothing seemed to be resolved.
Supervisors Skinner and Yakabouski went on record as opposed to removing fluoride from the county water supply. Chairman Benton and Supervisor Ross appeared to be unmoved by the health professional presentation and recommendations to keep fluoridating the water.
Chairman Benton seemed to get support from Supervisor Marshall to conduct a survey to get public feedback on whether fluoride should be removed. Supervisor Yakabouski voiced his opposition to this idea. Supervisor Ross advocated for adding a fluoride warning to each county resident’s water bill.
The cost savings of removing fluoride would be $27,000 per year.
There is a subtle difference between seeking community feedback and allowing the community on technical issues to dictate public policy. It is no longer at that point an issue of whether fluoride is safe, but which advocacy group is more effective at shaping public opinion.
This debate portrays the County in a negative light for several reasons. Mostly it only encourages more citizens to question our public institutions, specifically due to some of our leaders giving too much credibility to outlying research while concurrently dismissing a sizable body of credible research.
While there is no apparent crisis on hand with fluoride – which I concluded from no supervisor or opponent of fluoride providing any evidence of such - there is a clear and present danger caused by the opioid epidemic. Facts support this crisis in the community as displayed this past summer when Supervisor Trampe asked for information on how the opioid epidemic was affecting the county government. However, there was no public presentation made on this issue. This information was presented in the Board’s packet and not discussed openly by the Board. This fact is probably one of the strongest examples that leads to questions on why so much time is dedicated to any issue such as water fluoridation.
The meeting concluded with Board Chairman Benton asking the Public Works Department to provide the Board with logistics of conducting a county-wide survey. This survey seems to be a backdoor way of circumventing scientific research that does not support some citizens preconceived notions. The issue of fluoride has been discussed at two separate Board meetings with advanced notice to the citizenry. In short, the public has had multiple opportunities to voice their concerns.
Based on the meeting here are the stances of each Supervisor:
Chairman Benton – Supports survey of County citizens; questions fluoride safety and benefits
Vice Chair Trampe – Did not offer a clear policy position
Supervisor Marshall – Appeared supportive of survey to get county feedback; no clear position
Supervisor McLaughlin – No clear position
Supervisor Ross – Supports warning label on county water bills; questions fluoride safety and benefits
Supervisor Skinner – Opposes removal from water supply
Supervisor Yakabouski – Opposes removal from water supply
Click here to review the Rappahannock Area Health District Director presentation to the Board of Supervisors.
Click here to watch the full presentation and discussion by supervisors. See Minute Marker 1:57:00.
Click here to read Jeff Branscome’s Free Lance-Star article on fluoride in the county water.
Click here to read a Free Lance-Star Editorial by several local dentists.
Click here to read Jeff Branscome’s Free Lance-Star article covering a recap of the presentation and discussion from the January 23rd 2018 meeting.