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Silent protest: Fluoride debate rages on in Buda

The fluoride debate in Buda raged on as members of an anti-fluoride group flocked to the Jan. 3 city council meeting to demonstrate in a silent protest on the issue.

Protesters with the Flouride Free movement demonstrated by holding up orange signs with the words “Hear Us!” printed on them, which were shown when those against Buda’s decision to reintroduce fluoride in the water system spoke during public comment.

Jennifer Allen said the individuals speaking to council members during public comment were “the voice of the community.”

Anti-fluoride protesters used signs that said “Hear Us!” as part of a silent protest at the Jan. 3 Buda City Council meeting.

Anti-fluoride protesters used signs that said “Hear Us!” as part of a silent protest at the Jan. 3 Buda City Council meeting.

Allen said she is “very much against” fluoridation of the city’s surface water supply and claimed the grade of fluoride is not the same as what the dentists use, but a by-product of fertilizer called hydrofluorosilicic acid (HFA).

“Please postpone fluoridation of the water until the Fluoride Free side has had an opportunity to be heard and the community informed,” she said.

Buda resident Michelle Reed, who recently moved to Buda with her husband just over a year ago, echoed Allen’s concerns over adding a chemical to drinking water that she said the EPA wouldn’t allow in the environment.

“That is ridiculous,” Reed said.

Buda resident Corey Moss and her son suffer from a condition that makes it harder for her blood to detoxify heavy metals that could be exacerbated by the presence of HFA in the surface water supply.

“I urge you to postpone implementation of fluoridation,” Moss said, “I hope you hear us.”

Buda resident Eddy Toledo referenced a 1983 letter from Rebecca Hummer at the EPA calling HFA a “long-term waste product that is highly corrosive and pollutes the air and water.”

Buda resident Amanda Bodine claimed that she “isn’t anti-fluoride,” but that she expected council members to “take the pulse of their constituents” to determine if they are informed about the HFA they would be ingesting.

Brian Lillibridge, Buda Water Specialist, said that the City signed and passed a resolution in July 2015 supporting the continued fluoridation of the city’s water supply.

Sixty percent of Buda’s water is surface water from the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority. The remaining 40 percent is ground water from the Edwards Aquifer that has varying levels of “naturally occurring fluoride,” Lillibridge said.

Since November 2015, the city has worked with the Texas Fluoridation Program, a branch of the Department of State Health Services, to design and install a fluoridation system in Buda. They did so after GBRA stopped fluoridating the water from a supply source in San Marcos as a result of the “Fluoride Free San Marcos” movement,

Lillibridge referenced a report from an agenda item that was tabled Dec. 20, which said the city intends to fluoridate all surface water sources to not exceed the limit of 0.7 milligrams per liter (mg/l).

Lillibridge said the fluoride levels in Buda’s surface water differ at a couple of points. Where the fluoride levels are higher, technicians will not add as much fluoride. He added the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has set a Maximum Containment Level for fluoride in drinking water at 4 mg/l, with a secondary level at 2 mg/l.

Lillibridge said samples at locations such as the Bonita Vista Pump Station contain naturally occurring fluoride levels ranging from 1.8 to 2.5mg/l.

“No treatment or removal is required for fluoride levels above the SCL, but annual notification is required,” according to city documents.

Due to delays in the fluoridation system activation, the fluoridation of the water that was supposed to resume as of December 2016 has not been implemented yet.

As for the future of fluoride in Buda’s surface water supply, Lillibridge said the City would implement the new system within the next few weeks.

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