Spokane City Council votes for study on adding fluoride to water

SPOKANE, Wash.– The City of Spokane will take a closer look at adding fluoride to its water.

The city council voted 5-2 in favor of an engineering study that will look at the type of fluoridation process the city could use, the cost and partial design. The study is free and a way to gather information.

While fluoride is already found in the water, very little is in it naturally. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there usually isn’t enough to prevent cavities. However, community water fluoridation could reduce tooth decay by 25-percent.

“The facts are that water fluoridation is safe and prevents dental disease,” said Dr. Marcus Baca, a local pediatrician. “Preventable dental disease represents really such a burden for our children in our community.”

“Adding fluoride to the water will help keep our young folks from needing as much intensive dental treatment as they age,” said KJ January, a member of Spectrum Spokane.

Water fluoridation had been a contentious topic in Spokane for decades. Now, city leaders say this study will help move it forward.

However, not all council members are on board.

“I believe that there are much better ways that we can help people without access to dental care to get dental care that they need without putting it all in the water,” said councilman Jonathan Bingle.

Bingle and Michael Cathcart voted against it.

Many people did express interest in a public vote when it comes to adding fluoride to the water.

“I really want to continue to start that — build that trust with those that we have elected into office. Take it to a vote. Let your voters decide in the community,” a community member said during public comment.

The last time a public vote happened was 22 years ago. The vote was close, but people against it ended up winning that battle.

“But it’s obvious that these outcomes run contrary to the belief of the majority of this Council. And that’s ok, our beliefs can be different from the citizens that we represent, but ultimately we are representative of our constituents.

A second resolution passed, requiring City Council to get public input once the study is done.

“That would make it clear that we’re committed to robust public engagement with the evidence that we get from the study,” said President Breann Beggs.

The money to do the study comes from the Acora Foundation. It’s a $600,000 grant, so it will not be funded by taxpayers.

The study is going to take a while to do. It will start next week and is expected to be done by August 2023.

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