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Hearing set for Nov. 20 on water fluoridation

City plans to stop program pending public comment

Posted: Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Juneau residents will get a chance Nov. 20 to speak out on whether the city should stop fluoridating water.

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The city plans to halt the controversial program, pending comment from residents and elected officials, and results of fluoridation studies underway at the National Research Council. Officials fluoridate the water supply to improve the public's dental health, but the program has come under fire in recent years. Some people question whether other alternatives are more effective.

Mayor Bruce Botelho announced the Nov. 20 public hearing during the Juneau Assembly meeting Monday evening. The issue came up Saturday during an Assembly goal-setting session. During that meeting, City Manager Rod Swope said he was uncomfortable making a decision to stop the program and preferred to first hear comments from the city's elected officials, he said.

Botelho said Monday that the city attorney advised the issue be put on an agenda. He also reminded residents that if they commented Monday on fluoridation, they would not be allowed to speak Nov. 20 on the topic.

Two citizens spoke on the program Monday. Juneau resident Margo Waring said she would like to see it stopped.

"I want to stress that fluoridation is not our only way to express concern about children's dental health," she said. Topical fluoridation is more effective and a program could be implemented that might help those unable to afford it, she said.

Patty Owen disagreed, saying that if the fluoridation program is stopped, "it would take Juneau backwards by at least 60 years."

"Community water fluoridation is one of the measures of a healthy community that I have come to take for granted," she said.

• Brittany Retherford can be reached at brittany.retherford@juneauempire.com.



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