Oconto Falls stops fluoridation of water

OCONTO FALLS, Wis. The Oconto Falls city council voted 4-2 this month and now fluoride is no longer being added to the water supply. Now that a fifty-year practice in the city is coming to an end, the community is having mixed reactions.

The barrel holding Fluoroacetic Acid sits empty inside the Oconto Falls well house

Greg Kuhn, the Oconto Falls Utility Manager is the one who recommended the city no longer add Fluoroacetic Acid to the water, saying it's bad for the pipes.

"The Fluoroacetic Acid is very corrosive, so it attacks any piece of iron in the system it eats away at concrete so what you see is particularly in our well house is the premature corrosion of pipes," said Kuhn.

The city anticipates saving $13,500 every year by stopping fluoridation.

Alderperson George Stuckey voted to keep the practice, believing that added fluoride improves the community's oral health.

"We have a huge rural community for school here and I feel even though they may not drink that much water and things like that, it's still bound to help them a little bit," said Stuckey.

Stuckey says one filling from his dentist cost anywhere from $200 to $300, but it costs much less to prevent cavities using fluoride in the water.

"Oconto Falls itself for the cost of the fluoridation, you divide it out and it cost less than $5 a year for each individual throughout the whole city," added Stuckey.

A petition has been started to bring fluoride back, but Kuhn says the people who sign the petition are surprised when he tells them what's actually going into their drinking water.

"They're like wait- what are you adding to the system? Well I’m adding basically Hydrochloric Acid to the system. If I came to you with a bottle of water and I put two drops of battery acid in it, would you drink the water? Most people say no," said Kuhn.