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Public health groups recognize water fluoridation champions

April 25, 2017

By Michelle Manchir

Albuquerque, N.M. — Recognizing the important health benefits of community water fluoridation, the ADA, the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention honored leaders, states and community water suppliers at the National Oral Health Conference April 23.

The groups distributed three fluoridation merit awards, which recognize "an outstanding contribution toward the progress of fluoridation."

Recipients included Dr. William Bailey, Dr. Scott Presson and the Santa Clara Valley Water District in California.

Dr. Bailey
Dr. Bailey, a longtime public health dentist, is credited with revamping and focusing water fluoridation training and building the capacity of the state infrastructure grant program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Oral Health. While at CDC he also played a large role in the development of the recommended fluoride level for public drinking water. Dr. Bailey was selected to serve as the U.S. Public Health Service's assistant surgeon general and chief dental officer, during which time he structured a "national policy and program to build the public health dentistry program within the federal government," according to the groups honoring him. He currently serves as the Delta Dental Endowed Chair in the Prevention of Early Child Caries at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine.

After a distinguished career in the Indian Health Service, Dr. Presson joined the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as Program Services Team Leader for the Division of Oral Health, according to the groups honoring him. He provided leadership in initiation and development of the CDC State Infrastructure Grant program to build the capacity and resources of state oral health programs. He also provided oversight for the CDC water fluoridation program and the development of various data applications for fluoridation surveillance and management. Dr. Presson led the committee that initially examined the science that would become the basis for the 2011 recommendation on fluoride levels in public drinking water. His work assignments involved collaboration with the ADA, American Association of Public Health Dentistry, American Public Health Association, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and others. In his last years at CDC, Dr. Presson served as Director of CDC's Dental Public Health Residency program.

The board of directors for the Santa Clara Valley Water District is credited with "unwavering support for community water fluoridation." Following a unanimous vote in 2011, the board initiated fluoridation in 2016 to one of its three water treatment plants and has proposed to fluoridate its remaining system by 2020. With this action, San Jose, which had been the largest city in the United States not yet fluoridated, will now begin to receive fluoridated water. The district was also recognized for "providing notification to the public about fluoridation" on its website, which offers fluoridation facts in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese.

Several states and communities were recognized for the support of water fluoridation.

Arkansas received the 2016 State Fluoridation Initiative Award, which recognizes the state that had the greatest increase in population on fluoridated water or the state with the most new systems fluoridating. Arkansas also earned the Healthy People 2020 Award, which recognizes states that achieve the objective of having 79.6 percent of population in a state on community water supplies.

Six states were recognized for providing consistent optimally fluoridated water in more than 90 percent of adjusted water systems or population supplied by adjusted water systems. They were Arkansas, Delaware, Louisiana, North Dakota, Nevada and Rhode Island.

Seven communities that approved new water fluoridation programs in 2016 were recognized with Community Initiative Awards. They were: Lake City, Wellington and Flagler County in Florida; Oskaloosa, Iowa; Wilkesboro, North Carolina; Wilmington, Ohio; and Greenville, Texas.

Twenty communities that defeated initiatives to discontinue community water fluoridation in 2016 were recognized with Community Fluoridation Reaffirmation Awards. They were: Healdsburg, California; Durango, Colorado; Hartford, Connecticut; Clearwater, Collier County and Perry, Florida; Clay City, Indiana; Arkansas City, Kansas; Machias, Maine; Duxbury and Shrewsbury in Massachusetts; Union City, Michigan; Houston, Missouri; Astoria and Lebanon in Oregon; Downington Municipal Water Authority in Pennsylvania; Hixson Utility District and the City of South Fulton Water System in Tennessee; Palestine, Texas; Rutland, Vermont; and Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

Finally, 106 communities in 30 states were recognized for 50 years of continuous water fluoridation between 1966 and 2016.

They were:

Decatur Utilities

City of Daytona Beach; City Melbourne; City of Sanford

City of Camilla

Muscatine Power and Water; Northwood Water Works; Waterloo Water Works

Broadwell, Carpentersville; Cary; Crystal Lake; Freeport; Hennepin PWD; Lacon; Rockford; Warren; Woodstock

Charlestown; Corydon; East Chicago; Osgood Water Department

City of Ellsworth; City of Gardner

Boone-Florence Water Comm; Paducah Water Works;
Princeton Utility Comm; Providence Water Works;
Stanford Water Works; Williamsburg Water Plant

Ashland Water District; East Millinocket Water Works; Machias Water Company

Albion; Carson City; Greenville; Hartford;  
Holland Board of Public Works; Saline

Barnesville; Burnsville; Canby; Coon Rapids; Dassel; East Grand Forks; Hawley; Madelia; North Mankato; Preston; Princeton; Shakopee; Spring Lake Park; Stewartville

City of Collins; Town of Prentiss


Mindenl; City of Neligh

North Dakota
City of Grafto; City of Lakota; City of Larimore; City of New Town; City of Park River; City of Parshall

New York
Carthage Village

City of Belpre; OH/AM Water-Tiffin District

Norman; Okemah Utilities Authority; Sand Springs


Fleetwood Borough Water System; Moon Township; Williamsport Municipal Water Authority

South Carolina
City of Camden; City of Dillon

South Dakota
Wessington Springs

Trenton Bolivar Water System; Dunlap Water System; Elizabethton Water Department Etowah; Hendersonville Utility District; Jefferson City, Rogersville Water System

City of Dallas

Brigham City Water System

Town of Bridgewater; City of Martinsville; South Rivanna WTP; City of Williamsburg


West Virginia
Follansbee Hooverson Heights; St. Albans Water Department; St. Mary's Water Works

Abbotsford; Belmont; Cornell; Cudahy Waterworks Deerfield; Ladysmith; Marshall; Monroe; Rhinelander; Sauk City Waterworks

Laramie Public Water System-Albany County