Orange Water and Sewer Authority restarted the process of fluoridating drinking water for the service area across Chapel Hill and Carrboro on Monday.
OWASA stopped fluoridating the water in February when a keystroke error from an operate caused a fluoride overfeed. A Do Not Use order was then issued for the approximately 80,000 residents who live in the area served by OWASA.
Some residents have taken the temporary fluoride stoppage to call for a full review of whether fluoride should be added to the water supply at all. The group has held several protests outside of OWASA meetings throughout the year.
Many major scientific and medical organizations – including the United States Center for Disease Control, US Environmental Protection Agency and American Dental Association – publicly recommend fluoridation of drinking water. OWASA fluoridates drinking water at .7 parts per million, which officials say is based on the recommendation of the US Public Health Services. Federal limits on fluoride are capped at 4 ppm.
Water in the Chapel Hill – Carrboro area has been fluoridated since 1964, according to OWASA – although the utility has been in operation since 1977.
OWASA officials say a new plan has been developed to introduce new equipment and monitoring programs intended to improve the fluoride feed system. Officials also maintain that no water with elevated levels of fluoride left the Jones Ferry Road Water Treatment Plant in Carrboro to make its way into the water distribution system during the crisis earlier this year.
OWASA estimates the total cost of the fluoride system improvements implemented after the overfeed at $162,000.