Fluoride to be removed from water in Battlefield

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Battlefield, Mo. The debate over whether to add fluoride to city water has been going on for years in communities across the country.

Springfield has it but has cut back on it over the years.

Battlefield's water district made a final decision on it last night, deciding to get rid of it once and for all, but the debate is far from over.

Signs all across the city of Battlefield are vivid reminders of how divided the community is over whether it should have fluoride in its water.

The water district board made a unanimous decision to get rid of it to save money, critics are frustrated.

"In this community, it's going to be really expensive and could be really devastating for the people of our community who are going to have life-long dental problems just because of this one decision," Dr. Marlene Feisthamel, General Dentist, in Battlefield, Mo., said.

Dr. Feisthamel said there are other methods to get fluoride but it's more expensive and will require a lot of compliance.

"It has to be done every single day religiously or it's not going to work and again only 30 percent of people are going to comply with a prescription," Dr. Feisthamel said.

Wayne Conti, a Battlefield Resident, is also concerned about being without fluoride in the city water.

"I'm disappointed, I'm disappointed for the people our grandchildren for us are going to suffer for what?" Conti said.

He is worried about it impacting future generations, like his five grandchildren living in Battlefield.

"It sets your direction for your life if you have bad teeth as a child you're going to end up with bad teeth for the rest of your life," Conti said.

It's a change some people in Battlefield said they aren't willing to give up.

"We need to try to get this back," Dr. Feisthamel said.

"If there's an opportunity to continue the fight for fluoride, I would like to be a part of it," Conti said.

The date as to when the fluoride will stop in Battlefield is still unknown.

The Chairman of the Public Water Supply District for Battlefield said the board wants to get rid of the fluoride because it can corrode the water pipes.

He also said the money can be better used on projects other than fluoridation.

Fluoride in Springfield:

In the 1980's the people mandated an ordinance to make it required for City Utilities to have to put a certain amount of fluoride back in the water system at that point it was one par per million and as of December of 2015 that was reduced to 0.7 pars per million.

On an annual basis, City Utilities spends about $100,000 give or take depending on water usage with 80,000 water customers.

"The amount has changed since the 1980's due to the simple fact that that dental hygiene has changed as well you can find that fluoride in other sources you can find it in toothpaste, mouthwash, and other sources, so it's not as prevalent that we put the fluoride in the water system as it used to be," Joel Alexander, Communications Manager for City Utilities, said.

The city puts in the bare minimum recommended by health officials because it is a city ordinance they follow.

"The only way we can change the amount of fluoride we put in is when it comes down as an order or suggestion from the CDC, the health departments or things like that, but to completely remove it out of the water system of Springfield would have to be done by the vote of the people," Alexander said.