Water treatment: What will new fluoride rules mean for Colorado water suppliers?

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Loretta Sword):

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Friday announced a proposal to lower its fluoride recommendations to 0.7 milligrams per liter, down from a range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter. Based on a recent study showing adverse dental and health impacts from higher levels and long-term consumption, the HHS also is reviewing the Environmental Protection Agency’s stance that up to 4 milligrams per liter is safe. HHS officials believe that level may be too high.

Don Colalancia, division manager for water quality and treatment at the Whitlock Water Treatment Plant , said natural fluoride levels of Pueblo’s water average about 0.4 milligrams per liter “and we feed fluoride to arrive at a 1.0 final concentration. We measure the raw water and then add enough to get to 1 milligram per liter.” Colalancia said he was aware of potential new guidelines and is awaiting word from state health officials before reducing target fluoride ranges at the Whitlock treatment plant. “Whenever the state says it’s OK to reduce the level, we’ll do that,” he said, adding that the state’s current recommendations mirror the federal guidelines that are under review. Adjusting the fluoride level is “very easy to do, and in fact we’ll save money by doing it,” Colalancia said.

Steve Harrison, director of utilities in Pueblo West, said the metro district does not add fluoride to the community’s water, and that periodic monitoring shows natural levels average about 0.5 milligrams per liter — just under the lowest level that is part of current guidelines as well as the proposed new recommendation of 0.7 milligrams per liter.

From The Greeley Tribune

[Jon Monson, water director for the City of Greeley] said Mother Nature helps Greeley fulfill that fluoride threshold because it’s naturally occurring in the water the city pumps from its Bellvue Water Treatment Plant and from Boyd Lake Treatment Plant. Both contain from 0.4 to 0.5 milligrams per liter, which the city boosts with chemical additions. Reducing that will save the city $10,000 a year in chemical costs, Monson said…

Monson said the city could use that money instead to buy activated carbon, which it uses typically in the late summers, when algae in Boyd Lake grows. That algae has a tendency to stink up the water, prompting calls from residents complaining about the smell and sometimes the taste.

From Denver Water:

On Jan. 7, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced proposed changes to the standards and guidelines on fluoride in drinking water. Addition of fluoride to drinking water supplies is recommended by Centers for Disease Control, HHS, and the American Dental Association to help prevent tooth decay, particularly in children. It was recognized by the CDC as one of the ten greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.

The agency is lowering the recommended concentration of fluoride from a range of 0.7–1.2 mg/L to a flat 0.7 mg/L.

More water treatment coverage here.

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