Bedford, VA - June 15, 2020 - Following the request of the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the Bedford Regional Water Authority (Authority) will begin a two phase process of fluoridating drinking water, beginning on June 22; on that day operators at the Central Water Treatment Plant will begin adding fluoride to the water that primarily serves customers in the Town of Bedford. Then, on July 6, fluoridation will begin at the Smith Mountain Lake Water Treatment Facility (SMLWTF) which serves customers from Moneta to Forest.
“This decision was one our Board of Directors did not make lightly”, said Brian Key, Authority Executive Director. “Fluoridation is a highly debated topic that our board has discussed for years. Prior to making the decision to begin fluoridation, the board opened the conversation up at three different board meetings both to educate themselves and to allow the public to voice their opinions. Based off of this information, the board made the decision to begin fluoridation.”
In early 2019, VDH approached the Authority, asking the board to reverse the decision made in 2017 that stopped fluoridation at the Central Water Treatment Plant, and to begin fluoridation in all Authority water treatment plants. VDH provided extensive research and materials showing the importance of adding fluoride to public water systems. They stated that in Virginia, only three publicly owned surface water treatment plants do not fluoridate their water systems. Of those three plants, the Authority operates two of them. Making the decision to fluoridate aligns the Authority with the majority of the public drinking water suppliers in Virginia. Also, as an added incentive, VDH will cover a large portion of the costs of this treatment process through grant funding.
The Western Virginia Water Authority (WVWA), co-owner with the BRWA of the SMLWTF, also fluoridates their other water systems. To be consistent in their water treatment systems, the WVWA requested to have fluoride added to the treatment process at the SMLWTF. If fluoridation had not been added at the SMLWTF, the WVWA would have sought to add a fluoridation method in Franklin County for their customers in the Westlake water service area.
The public was notified of the fluoridation discussion through public meeting notifications for the April 16, 2019, May 21, 2019, and June 18, 2019 board meetings. The Board of Directors took public comments along with VDH and WWWA’s request into consideration prior to making the decision. The board made the decision to begin the process of fluoridation in all Authority water systems at the June 18, 2019 board meeting. Since that decision was made, staff from both Authorities have been working to obtain permits, procure equipment, and install the systems into the plants to enable fluoridation to begin on June 22 and July 6.
The Authority follows the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) drinking water rules and regulations which includes the standards for the addition of fluoride to the water system. VDH reviews plans and specifications for fluoride feed systems and requires regular reports about the fluoride concentration in finished drinking water. VDH supports the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service’s recommendation of 0.7 mg/L for optimum fluoride concentration in drinking water.
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