The Greater Pine Island Water Association board of directors approved a $63,000 grant from the Florida Health Department on May 22 that would afford it the ability to add residual fluoride to the water system, a plan a group of residents continues to protest.
The official announcement about the fluoride grant was made at the GPIWA annual meeting in February.
A meeting Sept. 25, provided an opportunity for the public to speak about their concerns regarding the addition of fluoride to the Pine Island drinking water, which were mainly health concerns. The two-hour discussion became intense and emotions were high as residents discussed the harm of fluoride being added to the drinking water.
Information passed out before the meeting stated "the fluoride that will be used by GPIWA to bring fluoride levels up to the optimum levels needed to help prevent tooth decay begins as the mined mineral fluorspar, also known as fluorite. The mineral is crushed and the naturally occurring fluoride ion is extracted and then further refined into hydrofluosilic (HF) acid that meets the stringent standards required for drinking water."
The information also stated that the GPIWA contracted with Dumont Company Inc. in Oviedo, Florida to provide HF acid.
Jack Mills, a member of the organization Citizens for Safe Water, told the board of directors that a simple vote by the members would have put to rest the topic of fluoride a year ago. Although the GPIWA claims that children's teeth are its main concern, he said he does not believe that at all.
"There has to be another reason, another incentive," he told the board. "I want to find out the reason."
Mills went on to say that the community must stop fluoridation on Pine Island.
"We are letting big businesses run our establishment, it has to stop," he said.
Ron Parker, the president of Citizens for Safe Water, also spoke during the meeting. He began by reading a letter he gave to each of the board members that addressed the imminent harm to children as a result of drinking fluoridated water.
"You are going to adversely affect the health of children, period, no two ways about it with the water fluoridated at that level," he said to the board.
The information handed out during the meeting also stated that for more than 46 years the water produced by GPIWA has contained fluoride due to it being found naturally in the ground water. During the years of 1966-1977 the fluoride levels in the drinking water averaged 1.0 ppm (parts per million). With the water plant moving onto Pine Island, the deeper water supply produced 1.5 ppm in fluoride levels, which is reduced to 0.3 ppm due to reverse osmosis.
Now with the new fluoride process, the GPIWA will add back an average of .4 ppm, which will bring levels back up to 0.7 ppm.
Parker requested three things from the board before he finished his speech Tuesday afternoon.
"I request that the Greater Pine Island Water Association immediately cease the implementation of water fluoridation," he said. "I request that the Greater Pine Island Water Association provide a warning printed on their monthly service invoices to all Greater Pine Island Water Association members to whom fluoridated water is provided, stating that fluoridated water has been determined to effect physiological harm to children of 0 to 2 years of age, and should not be consumed by children within this range of ages."
Parker asked the board for a response, discussion and direction of his requests.
"I believe you made a bad decision,' he said to the board. "I would like to get some dialog going and address this. You are taking a step that I don't think you understand the weight of."
Jamie Richard told the board that she hates to see what is happening to the community regarding the topic of fluoride because it is causing a rift. She told the board that she has a big problem with how they have handled the whole situation and she sees it as very suspicious because the meeting in which the board approved the fluoride grant was only advertised one week before it was held.
"Very suspicious to me how this whole thing came about," she said. "I think you fully intend to literally shove this down our throat."
Richard begged the board to put a halt to the implementation of fluoride until the snowbirds arrive back in town, so they to can be educated.
"It won't hurt us to wait," she said. "You have waited 30 something years to do this."
Mark Dean began his speech by saying Pine Island is supposed to be a different place, a place with more freedom.
"This isn't the dream,"'he said of the addition of fluoride to the water.
Dean said clean water is vital, which will be changed once fluoride is added.
"You guys have already set up to poison us all and take our freedom away, we have no choice," he said. "This is poison, it's going to accumulate in everyone's body, call it off. You made a mistake; it's OK to admit you made a mistake. You are playing with our health and our children's health. If we educate this island with real information you would have the whole island against you."
There was one member of the audience that spoke in favor of fluoride.
Roger Wood said he wanted to attend the meeting to come and listen to those who spoke and get a feel for what the people of Pine Island are interested about.
The 69-year-old Pine Island resident said he grew up in Chicago and drank fluoridated water all his life and said he is not anymore stupid than anyone else using fluoridated water.
"If this goes beyond this room to the 6,000 people of Pine Island, they will recognize there are a lot of toxic things in our society, in this case, they are going to want to see the smoking gun," Wood said. "I think you should recognize that."
After the crowd shared their comments concerning fluoride, Mike Faulkner, president of the GPIWA board of directors, wrapped up the topic by thanking everyone for attending the meeting. He reassured the crowd that the board has listened to everything the residents have said, along with the information that has been provided to them.
"We have spent hours on the Internet reading the sources that you have provided to us," Faulkner said. "Let me tell you that I'm sure we will also consider all the information we have been given today."
He went on to tell those who attended that there are nine members who sit on the board, all volunteers and all unpaid.
"I would dispute anyone who questions our motives," Faulkner said.
Since he has four generations of family living on the island, he told the crowd that he would not vote for anything that would have the slightest indication of harming anyone.
"We have heard what you said and frankly so far we have not been convinced that fluoride is a bad thing," Faulkner said prior to what they heard before Tuesday's meeting.
Faulkner also addressed the question the crowd asked about why the vote to approve the grant for the fluoride, and therefore add the fluoride to the water, was not made available to the members for a vote.
"We are elected to make these decisions, we are supposed to represent and we want to represent the people," he said.
On the other hand, Faulkner encouraged the Citizens for Safe Water to get a petition going to request a meeting.
"If we get a required number of signatures we will have a special meeting," he said. "We are not trying to shove this down your throat. We are listening to you and we are listening to other people as well."