Fluoride delay in East TN water system

By: Stephen McLamb
By: Stephen McLamb

Blount County (WVLT) Fluoride was expected to begin flowing into the South Blount County water system in the morning but now that will not happen.

WVLT Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb has more on the delay.

There have been protests over putting fluoride into the system but that's not the reason for the delay.

The utility board found it had not given proper notification to customers the chemical additive was coming so it's been put off a month.

Time protesters hope to use to their advantage.

For a second time, protesters gathered outside the South Blount Utility District expressing their displeasure over a decision to put fluoride into the water system.

Cynthia Bissett, protesting fluoride says,"poison dumped into our water system under the guise of preventing cavities is an atrocity."

Despite the rain, there were some new faces in the crowd.

Bissett says, "we didn't know about it before or we would have been involved then."

Board members changed their longstanding policy of not including fluoride after Mayor Jerry Cunningham sent a letter telling board members they would not be reappointed if they opposed fluoride.

Linda King, a protest organizer says, "they tell us the only thing that's going to change is if we can change the mayor's mind."

But in the boards meeting this morning, they discovered customers had not been made aware of the change by putting notification on their bill.

Marshall Hurst, utility board member says, "there is a thirty day delay to get that information out to our customers."
Protesters celebrated the delay.

King says, "we really appreciate the board today being so attentive to all our comments. They've given us a reprieve."

Hurst says he fully anticipates fluoride will still be going into the water system which is being supported by members of the Blount county dental society.

But protesters got maps of the systems district and see the delay as a second chance to get signed petitions from customers.

King says, "I think if there's enough outcry in the community I think we can make a difference and change the vote of the board."

A spokeswoman from mayor Jerry Cunningham's office says the mayor supports any decision the board needs to follow in putting fluoride into the water.

The board will meet again on April 1st, just before the thirty days notice to customers.


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