The City of Booneville last week awarded a contract to Associated Builders of Pocola, Okla., to install fluoridation equipment into the city’s water treatment facility.
According to Booneville Water Department superintendent David Hardin it is not a popular move, but it is one that is mandated by a state law requiring municipal water suppliers serving populations of greater than 5,000 people. Because it is a supplier for Magazine, Blue Mountain and the South Logan County Water Facilities departments, Booneville serves more than 10,000.
"A lot of people are afraid of it, said Hardin. "But we have to do it whether we like it or not. The sad thing is our customers are calling and saying, ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it.’ They don’t understand, we don’t have that option."
Hardin says the fault with the law lies with the Delta Dental, an insurance company that funded the grant to pay for the equipment and installation, going to the state legislature to mandate treating municipal water supplies.
"So many people are opposed to this. They call it rat poison, they call it all kinds of stuff," said Hardin. "A lot of people are upset because this water is consumed by these people so they should be the ones that have control over what goes into it.
Hardin said every phone call he has fielded about the issue have been against fluoridation.
He also points out that all previous attempts by individuals in Booneville to fluoridate the water supply have been defeated.
"The community has voted it down twice," said Hardin. "There has been several attempts by Delta Dental to persuade us — we don’t have to ask the people in a vote, the council and commission can vote to do it but (officials) say ‘the public doesn’t want it.’
"They couldn’t get it locally so they went to the state."
Work on the installation of the equipment which will insert 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter into the water supply, could begin this week and the company has 60 days to complete the installation for Hardin said.
The amount of the fluoride, which Hardin says will cost the water department $25,000 to $30,000 on an annual basis, that reaches the consumer will be minimal.
"The majority of all our water is not used for consumption. It’s used to wash clothes, wash toilets, water lawns, industry. Very little water is consumed by the consumer," said Hardin.