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Fluoride is coming to local water supply

If Portland plan goes through, chemical will be in water until 2016


It's official: Fluoride is coming to local water faucets thanks to the Sept. 12 decision by the Portland City Council to add fluoride to its water.

Portland supplies water to the Tigard Water Service Area, which includes King City, Durham, Bull Mountain and about two-thirds of the city of Tigard.

Tigard and Tualatin have long relied on Portland for water and have been wholesale buyers of Portland's water for decades. But the two cities aren't happy that neither was notified or consulted before Portland leaders decided to fluoridate drinking water.

Tigard Mayor Craig Dirksen and Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden both wrote letters to Portland Mayor Sam Adams expressing their dissatisfaction with the way Portland handled the discussions on fluoride.

Neither letter took a stand for or against fluoride, but both mayors said they should have been at least advised the plan was being considered.

Dennis Koellermeier, Tigard's public works director, said he learned about the issue from local newspaper and television coverage.

"Oh, it's just a mess," Koellermeier said.

As wholesaler buyers, Tigard and Tualatin have very little say in what Portland does to its water, he added.

"The process leading up to the decision cuts out the wholesalers from the decision process," Koellermeier said.

Portland provides water to 19 cities and water districts across the Portland area, including the Tualatin Valley Water District and West Slope Water District.

For about 58,000 customers in the Tigard Water Service Area who get their water from the city of Tigard, fluoridated water is likely temporary.

The Tigard Water Service Area is on schedule with its new water partnership with Lake Oswego, Koellermeier said, which will draw water from the Clackamas River starting in 2016.

The partnership will allow Tigard access to its own water for the first time, and it won't rely on buying its water wholesale from other cities.

Koellermeier said there are no plans to add fluoride to water in the Tigard-Lake Oswego partnership. "We had some cursory conversations about fluoride, but neither city has brought it up as an issue that they were contemplating," Koellermeier said. "Portland's effect on us will end by 2016."

However, Koellermeier said, Portland will remain an emergency water provider for the partnership.

"Ten years from now, if we had an emergency and needed Portland to supply us with water, then we'd be back in the fluoride business again," Koellermeier said.