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Water Department garners award

The Clanton Water Department has been selected to receive a Water Fluoridation Quality Award from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The department is among 73 Alabama public water systems that will receive the award, the state Department of Public Health announced yesterday.

Fluoridation is the adjustment of fluoride in the water to a level that is optimal for preventing tooth decay. The award recognizes those communities that maintained a consistent level of optimally fluoridated water throughout 2007. According to CDC’s Water Fluoridation Reporting System, Alabama has 121 public water systems that provide adjusted fluoride to their water supplies.

Clanton Water Plant Superintendent Donny Easterling said it costs an estimated $10,000 per year to add fluoride to the city’s water supply.

“That’s only about $2 per customer,” he said. “That’s not very much for getting protection for your children’s teeth.”

The city has been mixing fluoride into its water supply for about 10 years, Easterling noted. The chemical is added in very small amounts, at about 1 part per million or 1 mg per liter.

The CDC recognized community water fluoridation as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. CDC recommends water fluoridation as a safe, effective and inexpensive method of preventing decay; every $1 invested in fluoridation saves approximately $38 in costs for dental treatment. In addition, studies have shown that tooth decay is prevented among all age groups, not just children.

“We are very pleased to announce that Alabama water systems have shown marked increases in maintaining optimal fluoridation in the past three years,” said Dr. Donald Williamson, state health officer. “The number of systems which have received this honor grew from just four in 2005, to 53 in 2006, to 73 in 2007.”

More than 184 million people, or 69.2 percent of the United States population served by public water supplies, currently drink water with optimal fluoride levels for preventing decay.