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Burlington voters will decide on flouride in water system

January 25, 2006

BURLINGTON, Vt. --City residents will vote in March on whether they feel the municipal water system should continue the 50-year-old practice of adding fluoride.

The issue of fluoridation in Burlington has been debated before the Board of Health and City Council.

It will appear on the ballot as an advisory question. City officials will not be bound by the vote.

Fluoride is added to public water supplies in the United States to reduce tooth decay.

"I think the question of fluoridation of Burlington's municipal water supply is most appropriately decided at the City Council, as the councilors are the representatives of the residents of Burlington, and are elected to decide such matters," said Steve Arthur, director of the state Health Department's Office of Oral Health. "In this particular case, the City Council voted to continue fluoridation last year."

In late September, the council voted 7-4 to reduce the amount of fluoride in the water supply to the minimum level recommended by state and national authorities.

"I understand and appreciate any citizen's right to place an item on the ballot for Town Meeting Day if the appropriate number of signatures are obtained," he said. "In the coming weeks, the Vermont Department of Health will provide considerable information to Burlington residents regarding the many benefits of community water fluoridation."

Safe Water Advocates of Burlington, known as SWAB, gathered approximately the required 1,250 signatures to put the question on the March 7 ballot.