Plain, Lone Rock remove fluoride from water supply

Nicole Aimone, Editor-in-Chief

Recently, the village of Lone Rock and the village of Plain have decided to remove fluoride from their municipal water supplies, citing resident concerns, staff safety concerns and modern dental products containing fluoride as reasons for the removal.

In late 2020, the village of Lone Rock voted to remove fluoride from the water, effective Jan. 1, 2021. Lone Rock public works director Adam Reno stated the board voted for the change after a small group of local residents lobbied for the chemicals removal in recent years.

“There was a group of people in town for a couple of years who wanted it out of the system,” said Reno. “We treat with chlorine also, so I called our DNR rep and she said since we treat with both, we don’t need the fluoride too.”

Reno said increasing fluoride costs were not included in the decision to remove the chemical from the village’s water supply.

Last year, Lone Rock failed a test of water in the village, with the test finding traceable amounts of lead in the village’s water system. Reno stated the use of fluoride was not the culprit for lead in the water, instead piping in older homes throughout the village.

“The way that you sample for that is kind of goofy, because we have to go to a resident that was built in 1982 or older. On one block I tested three houses, one house came back positive, the other two came back negative,” said Reno. “The DNR looks at it as you had a positive, even if the rest of the system was negative.”

In Plain, the Utilities committee made the decision to remove the chemical from the water at its Feb. 8 meeting, after discussion with Lone Rock on their decision and the recent removal decisions of other nearby municipalities, said Plain Village Clerk Sheila Carver.

Public Works Director John Ruhland said the committee felt comfortable with the decision to remove fluoride because dental products like toothpaste and mouthwash include fluoride, and many homes have filtration systems that handle the effects of fluoride.

Ruhland said the biggest reasons for the village’s decision was safety for village staff working with wellhouses and water, as fluoride is an acid. Additionally, fluoride price increases was a factor the committee considered when making the removal decision.

Recently, Ruhland was the victim of a small burn from fluorosilicic acid splashing his arm while handling the chemical in a wellhouse.

“It was a little minor splash on my arm,” said Ruhland. “I have forgotten to wear rubber gloves before and have burned my fingertips but nothing serious.”

Ruhland said the village does provide hand and eyewear protection in each well house.

According to Amy Kluby, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Water Supply Engineer and the DNR municipal water rep for Iowa and Sauk counties, the DNR does not require adding fluoride to water systems or provide a specific recommendation to municipalities.

“Fluoride addition is elective, and if a system elects to add it, the department then regulates the use of fluoride,” said Kluby. “Residents in Lone Rock and Plain, if they do elect to discontinue fluoride addition, should be aware that fluoride is no longer being added to their water.”

According to the Wisconsin Dental Association, a lobbying group for dental professionals, who reached out to Valley Sentinel unprompted during writing, “For more than 70 years, community water fluoridation has proven to be a safe, effective and economical way to prevent tooth decay in children and adults – regardless of an individual’s age, income or education.”

Both the Village of Spring Green and the Village of Arena currently add fluoride to the water, and do not anticipate discontinuing that at this time, according to the village clerks.

Fluoride was removed from the water in Lone Rock at the start of 2021, and will be removed beginning around May 1 in Plain, when the village’s current supply depletes.