Fluoride suppliers not co-operating
EUREKA SPRINGS -- Carroll-Boone Water District's attempt to comply safely with the state's new mandate to fluoridate drinking water systems that serve 5,000 or more people could be affected by the lack of cooperation from fluoride suppliers.
Carroll-Boone water operator René Fonseca testified at a House and Senate Interim Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor meeting in Hot Springs on Aug. 17 about the water district's concerns that the state mandate allows for water operators to follow other guidelines with which they are charged.
To this end, state Rep. Loy Mauch of Bismarck attempted to introduce House Bill 1205, the Arkansas Water Additive Act. The Act establishes criteria for disclosure of content, impurities, testing and origin of anything added to drinking water supplies beyond those required by law for disinfection.
The bill states these disclosures are essential so the safest products can be chosen for public health and so effective emergency response can be mounted should the need arise.
Mauch was not able to introduce the bill because the wrong bill was put forward when it came his turn to speak, Fonseca said. The committee was going to cancel testimony but the committee chairs allowed it to go through when they learned some had traveled long distances to be able to testify, such as Jeff Green, national director of Citizens for Safe Water, who flew in from San Diego, Calif.
Fonseca, testifying in place of Carroll-Boone office manager Jim Allison, who could not attend, said Carroll-Boone would like specific information about any products it must add to water because, in the case of fluoride, there are several kinds that can be used, and the district wants to make an informed choice.
Jim Walls, a former water operator with Hot Springs County who suffered life-debilitating health effects in a fluoride accident, also testified.
Although the bill was not introduced, their testimony will become part of the official record, Fonseca was told, and can be brought back in when the bill is introduced.
In a follow-up letter after the meeting to House Committee Chair Linda Tyler, Fonseca gave the history of Carroll-Boone on the fluoride issue and updated her on its efforts to comply with the law.
He said the district's engineer is conducting a feasibility study. In the meantime, Allison has attempted to obtain information about available fluoride products.
One of the suppliers of disinfection chemicals told Allison his company also supplies fluoride but would be "unable to provide the documentation Jim had requested."
"This document, which we believe they should possess in their files, would likely be the same document they would furnish the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for proper certification," Fonseca wrote. "This would give us complete disclosure of the raw product, along with a list of all contaminants by weight, and associated studies pertaining to those contaminants."
He said the water industry measures contaminants by parts per million and per billion, and there are maximum levels established by the federal government.
Carroll-Boone operates under the laws of the Clean Water Act, Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule and the State of Arkansas Rules and Regulations pertaining to Public Water Systems, he added.
Allison then drafted and sent a letter to 49 fluoride suppliers listed at the ANSI website, requesting the information needed to make an informed decision in a timely manner.
"Jim was hoping for a 30 percent to 50 percent reply, which would give us an ample pool of manufacturers and suppliers to choose the safest product," Fonseca wrote.
After 90 days, not one has replied, he said.
"We have not faced anything this challenging regarding product selection, at Carroll-Boone Water District and find it a little puzzling why no one has sent a timely response."