IDA GROVE, Iowa -- Ida Grove city leaders and residents disagree on whether fluoride should continue to be placed in the city water supply, so residents in the Ida County town seat may be surveyed on the subject.

Ida Grove Councilman Doug Clough on Friday said the fluoride issue at hand may be placed as a survey question on utility bills to gauge where residents stand. Clough said since 1971 city officials have been placing hydrofluorosilicic acid, most recently in liquid drops form, into Ida Grove's water supply to prevent tooth decay.

Christie Van Houten, of Ida Grove, has spoken in council meetings and on a personal Facebook page has shared numerous posts about her opposition to the fluoride.  Van Houten has linked to an online poll with the title, "Stop re-introduction of Synthetic Flouride in Ida County Drinking Water!"

Van Houten urged people to vote on that poll, which contains the snippet, "Water fluoridation is allowing government to mass medicate. This is what doctors can not do to individual patients. Put another way: Would you allow your neighbor to decide what medication you should ingest (even if it’s against your will)?"

Clough said the controversy has been aired on social media and newspaper letters to the editor, as city council members have veered on whether fluoride should be in the water. Ida Grove is a town with 2,142 people.

"Everybody is passionate on both sides," Clough said.

The issue of whether fluoride should be in public water systems comes up periodically in Iowa and nationally. In January, a Hawaii lawmaker introduced legislation that would require the state's major public water suppliers to fluoridate drinking water, as a way to promote better dental health.

Siouxland dentists routinely say brushing, flossing, a twice-a-year check-up and fluoride in water are key elements of cavity prevention.

Clough personally wants the fluoride to be placed in the water, even though he voted against it last summer.

City Water Superintendent Lon Schluter in a July 2018 council meeting said the city equipment used to drip in the liquid form of fluoride needed replacement, and noted that not all area towns add it. The council that day unanimously voted to stop using it, the office of the city clerk confirmed Friday.

Clough said he subsequently educated himself on the topic, and learned the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta doesn't see any health risks associated with fluoride in water systems. Local public health officials, including from Horn Memorial Hospital in Ida Grove, in subsequent meetings urged the council to use fluoride.

Thereafter, the council on a 3-2 vote in November moved back to approve using it. However, fluoride is not currently being placed into the Ida Grove water system, while waiting for the updated equipment to arrive.

"We are in this little hiatus," Clough said.

The topic was last discussed by the council in January, and Clough said there is some sentiment to put the issue to a referendum by residents. He said the Iowa League of Cities has advised such a ballot referendum has never been put before voters statewide.

Clough said that's why the city may put the issue out as a survey on utility bills.

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