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City of Spokane will considers fluoride study funded by $600,000 grant

Aug. 14, 2021 Updated Sun., Aug. 15, 2021 at 9 p.m.

City officials are set to study water fluoridation.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
City officials are set to study water fluoridation. (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

The city of Spokane is poised to study the feasibility of adding fluoride to its water supply.

Pending the City Council’s approval on Monday, the city plans to use $600,000 in grant funding to study fluoridation.

Under a proposed amendment to a contract approved last year, the grant money will not have to be paid back regardless of whether the city moves forward with fluoridation.

The funding was supplied by The Arcora Foundation, the charitable arm of insurer Delta Dental.

The $4 million grant was the subject of substantial controversy in 2020 as fluoride opponents warned that its acceptance would set the city on an inevitable path to fluoridation.

Under the original grant contract language, the city could have been forced to pay money back to Arcora if it opted to abandon fluoridation. But the contract would be amended Monday to clarify that the city could spend up to $600,000 on the feasibility study and initial engineering of fluoridation without having to refund Arcora, regardless of the outcome.

Mayor Nadine Woodward has not taken a personal stance on fluoridation but has remained adamant that the issue should be thoroughly vetted by the public. She’s also called for an advisory vote.

The council has agreed to a public review of the feasibility study results, but has not committed to an advisory vote.

City voters have thrice rejected proposals to add fluoride to the water, most recently in 2000.

Woodward had previously held up the study over concerns that the city could be on the hook for the money if it decided not to move forward with fluoridation.

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