PORT ANGELES — Fluoridation of the Port Angeles municipal water supply stopped this morning — at least until Nov. 7 2017.
That’s when voters will tell the City Council their preference for or against fluoridation in an advisory election that the council will accept as binding, council members decided in a 4-3 vote Tuesday.
Mayor Patrick Downie, who voted Dec. 15 to continue fluoridation, sided Tuesday with council members who have voted against it after presenting the proposal for the three-part decision which stops fluoridation, calls for the vote, and pledges that council members will abide by it.
The decision changes a 10-year-old city practice of fluoridating the city’s water supply to prevent dental disease.
Downie joined council members Lee Whetham, Michael Merideth and Sissi Bruch to stop putting fluorosilicic acid in the city’s water and to hold the advisory election.
He reiterated Tuesday that his plan was “intended to be a compromise” in the face of deep community division over fluoridation that has spawned four ethics complaints against council members and repeated, intense City Council public comment sessions.
Councilmen Brad Collins and Dan Gase and Deputy Mayor Cherie voted against stopping fluoridation and against abiding by the pledge to follow the dictates of the advisory ballot, which council members are not legally bound to do.
Downie quoted extensively July 19 from a Peninsula Daily News editorial that urged a binding advisory vote. The editorial did not recommend that fluoridation should stop.
Fluoride is no longer being added to the water supply as of today, but it will remain in the water for four or five days, said Craig Fulton, public works director. He added that some fluoride occurs naturally in the Elwha River from which the city draws its water.