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On October 9, 2017, OWASA will resume fluoridating drinking water for the Carrboro-Chapel Hill community following completion and testing of safety and reliability improvements to the fluoride feed system at the Jones Ferry Road Water Treatment Plant in Carrboro.
OWASA temporarily ceased fluoridation on February 2, 2017 due to an accidental overfeed of fluoride. The over-fluoridated water was fully contained within the Jones Ferry Road Water Treatment Plant. No drinking water with elevated levels of fluoride entered OWASA’s drinking water distribution system. After an independent review of the overfeed event, OWASA developed an action plan including new equipment and monitoring/control improvements in the fluoride feed system. The total cost of the fluoride feed system improvement is $162,000.
In accordance with recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), American Dental Association, NC Division of Public Health, Orange County Board of Health and other organizations, OWASA fluoridates its drinking water to promote dental health. Since 1964, the Carrboro-Chapel Hill community’s drinking water has been fluoridated (OWASA began operation in 1977). Of the 50 largest cities in the United States, 44 (88%) provide fluoridated drinking water. About 75% of the US population served by a community water system received fluoridated water in 2014. OWASA fluoridates drinking water to the level of 0.7 parts per million (ppm) as recommended by the US Public Health Service. The federal limit on fluoride in drinking water is 4 ppm. For more information: fluoridation.
The OWASA Board of Directors appreciates the thoughtful comments received from those who support and those who do not support fluoridation. At the March 9, 2017 meeting, following public comment and careful deliberation, the OWASA Board decided to continue fluoridating drinking water. The primary basis for the OWASA Board’s decision is the recommendations from the agencies noted above that have the scientific data and expertise, and in some cases the statutory responsibility, to advise the public on health issues. The OWASA Board continues to invite public comment about fluoridation or on any of its services and policies.