Flu­o­ri­da­tion lim­i­ta­tion stalls

Ex­empt­ing more wa­ter sys­tems fails in House com­mit­tee

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - ANDY DAVIS

A bill ex­pand­ing the num­ber of small wa­ter sys­tems that are ex­empt from hav­ing to flu­o­ri­date their wa­ter failed to clear a House com­mit­tee on Thurs­day.

House Bill 1865, spon­sored by Rep. Jack La­dy­man, R-Jones­boro, would ex­empt sys­tems serv­ing fewer than 22,000 cus­tomers from a 2011 law re­quir­ing them to meet Board of Health re­quire­ments for flu­o­ri­da­tion.

The 2011 law ex­empts sys­tems with fewer than 5,000 cus­tomers.

La­dy­man told the House Pub­lic Health, Wel­fare and La­bor Com­mit­tee that many small wa­ter sys­tems lack em­ploy­ees with ex­per­tise needed to flu­o­ri­date wa­ter. He added that in­gest­ing too much flu­o­ride can be dan­ger­ous.

“We can­not guar­an­tee in some cases that the con­cen­tra­tion is cor­rect,” La­dy­man said.

Nate Smith, di­rec­tor of the state Depart­ment of Health, said flu­o­ride helps pre­vent cav­i­ties and re­duces the cost to the state’s Med­i­caid pro-

gram of pro­vid­ing den­tal care to chil­dren from low-in­come fam­i­lies.

Sys­tems that are re­quired to flu­o­ri­date have been pro­vided ad­e­quate re­sources and tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance, he said.

The two sys­tems that have not met the flu­o­ri­da­tion re­quire­ment “don’t want to flu­o­ri­date,” he said.

The two sys­tems, Madi­son County Re­gional Wa­ter District, based in Huntsville, and Ozark Moun­tain Re­gional Wa­ter Au­thor­ity, based in Di­a­mond City in Boone County, have ap­pealed state Board of

Health or­ders to flu­o­ri­date their wa­ter.

The sys­tems ar­gue that they are ex­empt from the 2011 law be­cause they serve only “whole­sale” cus­tomers, such as other wa­ter sys­tems.

HB1865 fell one vote short of the 11 needed for a fa­vor­able rec­om­men­da­tion. Four mem­bers voted against the bill, and six didn’t vote.

Leg­is­la­tion spon­sored by La­dy­man in 2015 would have elim­i­nated the flu­o­ri­da­tion re­quire­ment al­to­gether. That bill was passed by the House but failed to make it out of a Se­nate com­mit­tee.

Ar­kan­sas Demo­crat-Gazette/BEN­JAMIN KRAIN

Rep. Jack Lady­man, R-Jones­boro, asks the House Pub­lic Health, Wel­fare and La­bor Com­mit­tee on Thurs­day to ap­prove his bill al­low­ing flu­o­ride ex­emp­tions for more small wa­ter sys­tems.

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