Spokane City Council accepts $4 million fluoride grant

SPOKANE, Wash. — The City of Spokane is one step closer to adding fluoride to public drinking water.

City council members accepted a $4 million grant to fluoridate city water. The decision came after hours of public testimony with wide-ranging opinions.

By accepting the grant from the ARCORA Foundation, a Washington non-profit, the city is required to fluoridate water by October of 2023 and for the next 20 years. If that does not happen, the city must refund the money.

“I’m ready to start and I’m ready to stand up and say we need to move forward, we need to so something,” Councilwoman Karen Stratton said.

Councilman Michael Cathcart cast the lone “no” vote.

“Nobody elected me to deal with fluoride. It wasn’t an issue that ever came up,” Cathcart said.

Cathcart believes the public should decide whether water is fluoridated. Voters have rejected the idea three times in past decades.

“The voters should make this choice and I think that if we accept this grant, we are locking ourselves into essentially fluoridation and we’re bypassing the will of the voters,” he said.

Under the contract with ARCORA, the $4 million must be spent on building a fluoridation system.

“We’re on a path toward water fluoridation, but it’s a path we can go off of if it’s too expensive, or if the science changes,” said council president Breean Beggs.

Several council members said they are open to the idea of letting voters weigh in with an advisory vote.

The project would cost an estimated $6 million with annual costs of $600,000.

Cathcart said he may invest in a reverse osmosis system for his home which would take fluoride out of his water.

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