It looks as though Natick within a few weeks could have fluoride back in its public drinking water supply for the first time since it started running out in January of 2022. A nationwide shortage has made fluoride hard to come by for many communities.
The Department of Public Works and its Water/Sewer Division shared updates this week with the Board of Health and Select Board, both of which urged reintroduction of sodium fluoride as soon as possible. Fluoride plays an important role in strengthening teeth against decay, especially for kids.
Natick officials last month said they were up to stockpiling a 4-month supply of fluoride, and now are up to 6, which makes them comfortable that once they start putting fluoride in the water they won’t need to stop again. “‘It’s time to start putting fluoride back in the system’,” said the DPW’s Bill Spratt.
There are operational costs involved in the starting and stopping of fluoridating the water supply, as filters and material are prepared.
Natick has acknowledged that it hasn’t done the best job of communicating about its fluoride situation with the public, so the discussion at the Select Board on Wednesday including ideas about how to best let the public know that fluoride will soon be back—something that might take those who never knew it was gone by surprise.
The town plans to mainly communicate electronically, including through its WaterSmart program, used by nearly 4,000 residents to keep track of water usage and more.
The Board of Health has also said it will reach out to area dentists and pediatricians, who may or may not be aware of Natick’s current fluoride status. We recently reached out to several Natick dental offices, and 1 dentist told us their office first heard about the fluoride stoppage some 8 months after the fact from a patient.
Natick originally thought it would run out in October of 2021, but Wellesley’s Department of Public Works came to the rescue with enough supply that Natick could use for the rest of that year (Wellesley didn’t need as much at the time because 1 of its treatment plants was out of action). Natick acknowledged in its annual water quality report issued last year (for the reporting year 2021) that as of June 2022 it was still unable to fluoridate the drinking water due to the shortage.
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