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Ozark Mountain Regional Public Water Authority fighting state fluoride law

(KY3)
Published: Mar. 22, 2019 at 4:12 PM CDT
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The Ozark Mountain Regional Public Water Authority believes adding fluoride to the system would be harmful to the environment, and believes it's also harmful to people. But in a state law it says fluoride prevents tooth decay and improves oral health.

An Arkansas law passed in 2011 says water systems in the state need to maintain a certain level of fluoride.

The law applies to any water system that supplies water to 5,000 people or more.

"Ozark Mountain, we don't have 5,000 customers," Andy Anderson, the chairman of the board, said. "We have 18 customers. None of our 18 serves 5,000 people. So logically this law doesn't apply to us."

But a circuit court judge disagreed, ruling against the water authority. So now Ozark Mountain voted at its board meeting in Valley Springs to appeal it to the state supreme court.

"In Arkansas the citizens weren't given a right to vote - they weren't given a chance to vote. it was mandated. It was forced on us," Anderson said.

Delta Dental has come out and said they are "committed to pay the reasonable costs associated with adding fluoride to Arkansas water systems. But Anderson said it's about more than just the money, it's about the consequences.

"It's going to go down the drain and our big drainage basin here is the Buffalo National River," he said. "So basically 99.5 percent of what we put in in Bull Shoals Lake, it's going to end up in the environment."

He adds the area is rural, and most of the water used wouldn't be for drinking. It's used more for things like farming.

Anderson said the money the board is using to appeal is all from donations, not water revenue. So far the board has raised about $2,100 of the $7,500 needed.

At the board meeting, members said they want to take this issue directly to the legislature.

In a statement, the Arkansas Attorney General said she stands with the circuit court decision and will consider options once briefs are filed.