Let the voters decide, that's the word from Wichita's City Council on whether to fluoridate the city's water supply.
The issue filled up many seats at Tuesday's council meeting and more than 30 people gave testimony. When it comes to adding fluoride to Wichita's water, there are strong opinions on both sides..
"Why do I avoid sodium fluoride?, Well its simple, its because it is a poison," said one speaker.
"I can tell you that fluoride is not a poison in the quantities that would exists in our water," said another speaker.
One speaker even gave council members free toothpaste. Another had alternative suggestions for what other drugs could be added to the city's water supply.
Thanks to a recent petition signed by more than 11,000 people, council members could have voted to start fluoridating Wichita's water right away. But it was clear that motion did not have majority support
"If you do the math and its not going to pass, it doesn't make sense beating your head against a wall," said Wichita Council member Janet Miller. "So you go ahead with the next best thing."
Instead, council members unanimously decided to put the matter to a public vote.
This isn't the first time Wichitans have voted on fluoridating water. It happened in the 1960s and again in 1978, both times the issue was voted down.
"Times have changed, we have had more information," said Dr. Sara Menge, Chair of "wichitans for Healthy Teeth", "We have had more time to see the effects around the country, to see the benefits."
"We are going to work just as hard, just as passionately to defeat this," said "Fluoride Free Kansas" spokesperson Don Landis. "We believe we have science on our side."
Both sides have less than 80 days to sway voters before the election.
Adding fluoride to the water will cost money. It will cost more than $2.3 million for the initial construction costs. That would be used to add the necessary equipment at the water treatment plant.
It would then cost the city about $600,000 to operate the system each year.
The fluoridation vote will happen November 6th.
A recent FactFinder 12 Scientific Survey shows that the majority of Wichitans are in favor of the issue going to a public vote.
City of Wichita puts the debate to a vote in the next election.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun