St. Petersburg received the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention award for Water Fluoridation and Quality for the second year in a row this year. Dr. Johnny Johnson, a local dentist and representative for oral health, awarded water resources director Steven Leavitt Florida and the Florida Department of Health.
St. Pete is the only municipality to receive the award in Pinellas County for both 2013 and 2014.
Fluoridating drinking water supplies is effective in promoting good oral health when done so at certain levels. The annual award recognizes communities for maintaining a consistent level of fluoridated water during an entire calendar year.
St. Pete is able to continually maintain those safe levels by operating and maintaining a water treatment facility in Cosme. At that facility water is aerated, softened, disinfected and fluoridated.
The facility can treat up to 68 million gallons of water each day that is then transported about 25 miles through water mains into St. Pete for consumption by residents. Residents use an estimated 28 million gallons of potable water per day.
The news comes as controversy over the city’s storm and wastewater system continues to swirl. This summer the city was forced to dump 31 million gallons of untreated and partially treated wastewater after an extraordinary rain event in August.
The issue drew attention to problems with the city’s aging infrastructure and has stirred conversations about how to begin taking immediate steps to shore up the problems.
While fluoridation was the topic of much concern earlier this decade, the practice is widely considered healthy for consumers. City officials have long stood by the practice, saying they would not bow to pressure from a minority to remove fluoride from the drinking supply.
The city has had in place its own water treatment system since it purchased the Pinellas Water Co. and adjacent deep-water wells in 1940. That company originally operated the facility now run by the city.