The Bellefonte Water Authority will discontinue the practice of fluoridating drinking water March 31.
The process to discontinue the practice was at times challenged by residents, area doctors and some council members, who felt the continuing practice was in the best interest of dental health.
Appeals against the state Department of Environmental Protection’s permit for the authority to cease fluoridating drinking water were recently dropped, according to borough Manager Ralph Stewart.
Some appeals were dropped due to people not following the appeals process. Council’s appeal against DEP was dropped after a compromise was reached with the authority, which agreed to launch a fluoride supplement program for eligible children between 6 months and 16 years old.
The program will be effective March 31 and will benefit children who are not covered by insurance or any other medical assistance program.
Program requirements include that the child is a resident and customer of the authority’s distribution system, guardians submit documentation of the child’s age and a completed application, and that they make an appointment with a dentist to get a prescription for fluoride drops or tablets.
The program reimburses the cost of fluoride supplements after documentation, including a pharmacy receipt paid out of pocket, is submitted. More information on the program and application is on bellefonte.net.
The authority will also form a task force to consider alternatives to water system fluoridation, according to Stewart, who said it could be made up of members from the authority, council, the school district, the dental practice community and residents.
Six appeals were filed against the DEP, and the process began with a directive from the Environmental Hearing Board to attempt to negotiate an agreement by Feb. 4.
Having come to an agreement, the authority sent out its second round of notifications to customers Monday. Discontinuing water fluoridation requires that the authority send out the notification a month in advance, which is why it will wait until March 31 to end the practice.