BERRYVILLE -- State Rep. Bryan King, R-Berryville, said Friday he is working with Rep. Loy Mauch of District 26 to sponsor a new bill requiring full disclosure of fluoride products in their raw state for use in drinking water.
This new bill will follow an attempt by Mauch last year to introduce House Bill 1205, the Arkansas Water Additive Act. The Act established 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 stated 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.
According to René Fonseca, a water operator with the Carroll-Boone Water District who went to Little Rock to testify in favor of the bill, Mauch was not able to introduce it because the wrong bill was put forward when it came his turn to speak.
The house committee overseeing the bill was going to cancel testimony, but committees chairmen allowed testimony as some had traveled long distances to speak.
Fonseca, one of 12 Carroll-Boone water operators who all oppose adding fluoride to the drinking water supply, as mandated by Gov. Mike Beebe in Act 197, testified that as a water operator he wanted specific information about any products the water district must add to the water to ensure he is complying with American National Standards Institute 60 with regard to adding contaminants to the water. Carroll-Boone must comply with the Clean Water Act, the Enhance Surface Water Treatment Rule and the state's rules and regulations pertaining to public water systems.
CBWD has not been able to obtain a list of products from any of the 49 suppliers it made a request of, Fonseca said.
In a letter to the state Bureau of Legislative Research, King asked about a bill requiring full disclosure.
Legislative attorney Mike Feehan replied that Arkansas presently does not require such disclosure, as Mauch's bill would have specified.
The requirements of Act 197 are that water districts serving 5,000 or more customers must fluoridate their water and that tax or service revenue cannot be used to fund startup costs.
"I felt the over-analyzed the bill," King said of committee members who reviewed Mauch's first attempt, "and I feel maybe we can address those things before bringing it to committee again."
Even though the City of Eureka Springs passed Resolution 600, opposing the state's mandate, it will have little effect, King said. Eureka Springs is one of the four member cities that make up CBWD.
It has twice in the past, before the state mandate, voted down a proposal by the other three member cities of Berryville, Green Forest and Harrison to fluoridate the water.
King said when the issue first surfaced, he didn't have a lot of concerns about fluoride, but he was educated when it became a debated, "hot button" issue.
"When you have water operators who work for Carroll-Boone expressing concerns about it -- and they are the experts -- you give it a lot more attention," he said. "And there are a lot of other people with concerns that should be addressed."
He also is against the state mandating it.
"I feel it should be a vote of the people," King said. "It's a local issue."
He said he and Mauch are working on reframing the bill to introduce in January, when the legislature reconvenes.