Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tarpon officials vote to add fluoride to city's water

TARPON SPRINGS — After nearly two hours of listening to impassioned pleas about the dental health of Tarpon residents, the City Commission unanimously voted Tuesday night to add fluoride to the city's drinking water.

Commissioner Jeff Larsen, who asked for the discussion on fluoridation, said he came to his conclusion after asking if fluoride is "safe, effective and is it the city's role to do this?"

"Yes, it's safe … yes, it's effective … and it is absolutely the right thing for us to do," Larsen said after recounting the research he had done on each question.

In about two years, Tarpon Springs will begin supplying its own drinking water when it finishes building a $45 million water treatment plant. The reverse osmosis plant, which will pull brackish water from wells, has been delayed because Tarpon resident Henry Ross challenged the plant in court on environmental issues.

Now Ross has exhausted all his legal appeals, so the city can start building the water plant, City Manager Mark LeCouris said.

In 2008, a different set of Tarpon commissioners voted not to include fluoridation equipment in the plant's design. It will cost $70,000 to add that, said Bob Robertson, Tarpon's public services program manager.

Tarpon now purchases 80 percent of its water from Pinellas County. In December and after a contentious public debate, the county stopped adding fluoride to its drinking water, affecting some 700,000 residents. Opponents contended that the government had no right to add chemicals to the drinking water supply.

More recently, Dunedin, Pinellas Park and Plant City decided to keep fluoride in their public water supply.

Tuesday night, almost 25 people, including several dentists, spoke for or against adding fluoride. Many dental professionals say fluoride is safe and effective in fighting tooth decay.

City officials said Tarpon's water naturally has some fluoride, but the city will add more to meet a federally recommended standard.

Before those in attendance were allowed to speak on the issue, Mayor David Archie told them that everyone's opinion would be listened to and respected. He warned that shouting or clapping during speeches wouldn't be tolerated. Every time people violated the rule, the mayor quickly put a stop to it.

Kurt Irmischer, president of Citizens for Safe Water, a political action committee based in Clearwater, argued that fluoride shouldn't be added to Tarpon's water. He said there is "not one" peer reviewed study that says "water fluoridation is safe and effective."

But Dr. Kristen Allen, a Tarpon dentist, said fluoride in the water is helpful.

"Studies have shown it makes a huge difference in fighting tooth decay," Allen said. "I hope we choose something better for our health and the health of our neighbors."

Commissioner Susan Slattery, who seconded Larsen's motion to add fluoride, said she made up her mind after listening to the comments.

"I came here this evening not knowing what side of the fence I was on," Slattery said. "I wasn't sure if we should add fluoride levels in our water. Part of our role is to look out for the general public and welfare of our citizens."

Tarpon officials vote to add fluoride to city's water 04/18/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 7:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Cavern' closes westbound lanes on E Fletcher Avenue in Hillsborough County


    Westbound lanes of E Fletcher Avenue are closed near the Hillsborough River to repair what the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office terms a "cavern" that formed under the roadway.

  2. Joss Whedon's ex-wife accuses him of cheating, being 'hypocrite preaching feminist ideals'


    Joss Whedon made his name directing cult television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and big-budget action movies, which often featured women in empowering roles. Many applauded him for being a champion of women, a feminist in an industry accused of misogyny and sexism.

    Joss Whedon at the screening of "Much Ado About Nothing" in 2014. Whedon's ex-wife Kai Cole alleged in an essay published by The Wrap on Sunday that Whedon had multiple affairs during their 16-year marriage. (Associated Press)
  3. Pasco school's parents, principal seek compromise on behavior plan


    Leaders of a Pasco County elementary school that has come under criticism for its new behavior plan have offered an alternative model that sticks to its goals while also better considering younger children who might not understand the original terminology.

    This is the original chart that upset parents with wording such as "anarchy" and "conform to peer pressure" without any context.
  4. Jon Gruden, Rex Ryan meet with Jameis Winston on 'Hard Knocks'


    One of the interesting guest stars on HBO's "Hard Knocks", which covers every minute of the Bucs' training camp and preseason, has been Jon Gruden. The legendary former Tampa Bay coach has popped up from time …

    In a teaser clip from episode 3 of "Hard Knocks", Jon Gruden and fellow former coach Rex Ryan meet with Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston to discuss his past and future in the NFL. [HBO/NFL FILMS]
  5. German police seize thousands of 'Trump' ecstasy tablets


    BERLIN — German police say they have seized thousands of tablets of the party drug ecstasy in the shape of Donald Trump's head, a haul with an estimated street value of 39,000 euros ($45,900.)

    This undated  picture provided by Polizeiinspektion Osnabrueck police shows an ecstasy pill. German police say they have seized thousands of ecstasy pills in the shape of President Donald Trump's head, a haul  with an estimated street value of 39,000 euros ($45,900). Police in Osnabrueck, in northwestern Germany, say they found the drugs during a check Saturday evening on an Austrian-registered car on the A30 highway. [Police Osnabrueck via AP]