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Public can sound off on fluoride in water today

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The public will have the chance to sound off about a plan to resume drinking water fluoridation when the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority board takes up the issue today.

The board will hear a staff presentation about fluoridation and public comment at 5 p.m. at the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Government Center, One Civic Plaza, basement chamber. The board will take no action today on the issue.

The board will take up a proposed $260,000 capital appropriation to pay for the equipment needed to add fluoride to the water supply, which supporters say improves dental health for children and adults.

In May, the board voted 3-2 for an amendment to the utility’s operating budget to appropriate about $270,000 to operate the fluoridation system.

Fluoride is a mineral found naturally in Albuquerque’s water supply at levels of about 0.5 milligram per liter, according to a report prepared by the utility staff.

Fluoridation has a long and contentious history in Albuquerque, and the meeting is expected to bring out opponents and supporters.

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In 1970, 57 percent of Albuquerque voters approved an ordinance to add fluoride to the city’s water supply. The city began fluoridation in 1972 after a state district court judge upheld the ordinance.

Water authority officials have said the city’s fluoridation ordinance became ineffective in 2003 when the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority was formed. The water authority stopped adding supplemental fluoride in 2011 while the federal government considered new recommendations on fluoride levels, the utility said in a written statement issued Tuesday.

In 2015, the U.S. Public Health Service updated the federal drinking water standards, recommending that community water systems add fluoride to a concentration of 0.7 milligrams per liter to prevent tooth decay. That recommendation prompted the utility to reconsider fluoridation during budget discussions this year.


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