Hightstown Council Wants Answers on Fluoride-Free Water
DEP says notification a requirement, but not spelled out in regulations.
Some Hightstown council members are calling for an investigation into why residents were only recently told their water was fluoride-free, nearly two years after it was removed from the supply.
Mayor Steven Kirson and Borough Administrator Michael Theokas said they found out a few weeks ago and immediately took steps to inform the public.
Kirson said at Monday's council meeting that records show notice was given to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection the same month fluoridation stopped in the water in 2010. When the plant is shut down in coming months for other repairs, equipment to fluoridate the water would be fixed.
The council will then need to decide if fluoride should be once again added to the water supply.
Council members Susan Bluth and Robert Thibault volunteered to serve on a committee to investigate where things went wrong.
Thibault said the committee would work to find out what happened by developing a timeline of events, determining when decisions were made or not made and identify how to prevent something such as this in the future.
“It’s not to point fingers or assign blame, we want to make sure people know what happened and put policies and procedures in place so it doesn’t happen again,” he said.
Hightstown’s health officer received an anonymous call on Feb. 1 about the lack of fluoridation in the water, which prompted the public notification process, according to Thibault.
“My concern is that I know some residents, as I’ve gotten emails and I’ve gotten calls over the past several days, want to know what happened and why they weren’t notified,” Thibault said.
The DEP requires public notification if fluoride is removed from a water supply, however this is not explicitly spelled out in the regulations, said DEP spokesman Larry Hajna.
“They didn’t violate anything, we just think it’s good information for the public to have,” Hajna said. “It’s not an enforcement action, it’s a public information tool,” Hajna said.
Hajna said most towns do not fluoridate the water and there are only about 25 water systems in the state that do.
Thibault, who served on Hightstown’s Board of Health for about eight years and is currently liaison to the board, said if it is not clearly spelled out in the DEP regulations that could be one of the issues that needs to be addressed, or that the DEP needs clearer regulations.