Water additive bill going before Senate committee Wednesday
UPDATE: According to Sen. Bryan King, the bill will not be presented Wedneday but will be held over until next week.
LITTLE ROCK -- Arkansas Senate Bill 255, sponsored by state Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest, is scheduled to be debated Wednesday by the Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee.
The bill was filed on Feb. 6 and read twice that day.
The bill, known as the Water Additive Accountability Act, establishes criteria for substances added to public drinking water that are not required to make it potable. It puts the onus on water operators to ensure that any substance, such as fluoride, added to drinking water can be traced to its country of origin and is proven to be free of contaminants.
The bill follows a long controversy in the state over adding fluoride to public water systems. In 2011, Gov. Mike Beebe signed Act 197 into law, requiring it be added to those systems serving 5,000 or more people. The Act mandates that startup costs not come from taxes or water fees, but from private sources.
Carroll-Boone Water District, which serves 25,000 customers in Carroll and Boone counties, falls under Act 197.
Carroll-Boone water operator René Fonseca said he is planning to attend and testify in support of the bill, although not as a representative of Carroll-Boone. He and all other water operators at Carroll-Boone have sent letters in the past opposing the state's push to add fluoride to drinking water because of its potential dangers to public health and to water operator safety in handling the product.
The Senate committee will meet at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 20, in Room 272. The bill is the sixth item on the regular meeting agenda.