Empowered, Citizens of Lake City, Florida Reinstate Fluoridation
Lake City, Florida might have a cautionary tale to tell, but it’s one with a happy ending.
This small community recently came together to fight for the health of their families. Despite efforts to thwart them, on March 21, 2016 the Lake City Council voted unanimously to return to community water fluoridation (CWF) after a 9 year hiatus. Soon this town of about 12,000 residents, with a system serving more than 17,000, will begin the process of fluoridating the public water supply.
Lake City had CWF for over 2 decades, until the construction of a new, state-of-the-art water treatment facility in 2007. Upon completion, which included a room intended for fluoridation, it appears there wasn’t money for the necessary equipment. Instead of pursuing funds available to states from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for this purpose, Lake City let the practice come to an end.
In late 2015, an effort to reinstate fluoridation began, led by the county health administrator, health professionals, and concerned citizens. There were, as there often are, objections. But in this case, the opposition was led by a few people in key decision-making positions, individuals who took exceptional advantage of their roles to try to obstruct reinstatement.
Proponents vigilantly watched meeting agendas for indications that the topic would be addressed. They even reported hand-delivering printed emails and supporting documentation, as electronic communications to council members seemed to have been intercepted.
Looking at the agenda of the March 21, 2016 city council meeting, residents could not have known that there would be a vote on the question of whether or not to reinstate fluoridation. CWF was listed as a “Discussion” item. Had it been in its proper place, it would have included time for citizen input. That kind of thing can happen when one of the leaders of the opposition also controls the agenda.
Undeterred by all of these tactics, fluoridation advocates stepped forward, spoke up, and prevailed. Empowered by decades of evidence and sound science, they corrected misinformation and demonstrated what the strength a public effort, and democratic process, can wield.
Congratulations to the residents of Lake City, Florida.