Posts Tagged ‘fluoride’

Lessons from a former Kool-Aid kid

Why drinking water between meals is a better alternative to the sugary drinks of yesterday — and today.

By Jessica Mahaffey

I was a Kool-Aid kid.

The sweet drink fueled my summertime adventures in Waterton Canyon. I remember whipping up my cousin Matt’s favorite flavor (orange) instead of my favorite (grape) because my mom insisted I be polite to guests.

But oh, how times have changed. Today’s parents are replacing pitchers of Kool-Aid with seemingly healthier options like milk, sports drinks and fruit juices.

But these “healthy” drinks can have surprisingly large amounts of sugar, a point powerfully illustrated in Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation’s Cavities Get Around campaign about the link between what kids are drinking and childhood tooth decay.



What’s the big deal about sugar? Dental health experts say sugar fuels cavities and impacts oral health. According to the foundation, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood, affecting more than 40 percent of kindergartners in Colorado. More than half of all children in our state will experience tooth decay by the third grade. Children in Hispanic and low-income communities — where there is mistrust of tap water — are disproportionately impacted.

“Poor oral health can set children up for a lifelong struggle,” said Wyatt Hornsby, campaign director at Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation. “It’s hard to form words, focus in school, sleep and play when you’re in pain. That’s why we’re focusing on one of the root causes of tooth decay in kids: sugar.”

How much sugar is in these drinks? More than you might think.


Beverage Serving Size (ounces) Sugar (teaspoons) Sugar (grams)
Kool-Aid 8 oz 4.4 tsp 22g
Orange Juice 8 oz 6.6 tsp 33g
Apple Juice Box 6.8 oz 4.2 tsp 21g
Grape Juice 8 oz 7.2 tsp 36g
Gatorade 8 oz 4.2 tsp 21g
Chocolate Milk 8 oz 4.8 tsp 24g


So what does this have to do with us? Water, of course.

Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation encourages parents to limit sugary drinks at home and school and serve only water between meals and at bedtime.

“Our research has shown that juices and sugary drinks are major sources of sugar for many children,” said Hornsby.  “Water, on the other hand, helps protect a child’s teeth from decay when it’s from the tap and contains fluoride.”

Consider this Kool-Aid kid reformed.

A family stops at the water trailer this summer to enjoy a cup of Denver Water. “I love water because it keeps me healthy and happy” (left). “I value water because it makes me strong” (right).


Life in the water trailer

Our summer temp is new to Denver, and he’s learning a lot about water — from you.  

By Tyler St. John

Colorado grew by 100,000 people last year. I was one of them. And, yes, I’m a millennial.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Colorado population grew just over 100,000 from 2014 to 2015. Denver photo courtesy of Michael Levine-Clark, Flickr Creative Commons

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Colorado population grew just over 100,000 from 2014 to 2015. Denver photo courtesy of Michael Levine-Clark, Flickr Creative Commons

I know what you’re thinking. I am a young, self-entitled transplant listening to Bob Marley and slowing down traffic on the highway every day. I also have very little grasp on Colorado’s geography, politics and culture.

And you’re right. Until I landed my summer job working on water education events at Denver Water, I couldn’t even tell you where my water comes from.

Thousands of new residents moving into Colorado are probably like me. When it comes to water issues like availability and quality, we haven’t a clue.

Many of these newbies don’t think twice about using only what they need, because water conservation has never been an issue for them before.

Fortunately, many of our customers are pretty savvy about water use. They’ve reduced water use by more than 20 percent in the last 15 years, despite a 15 percent population increase.

As the summer marketing coordinator for Denver Water, I’ve discovered that people here really care about their water and want to know more. Working the Denver Water trailer around the city, I’ve been fielding lots of questions about where the water comes from, how much is left and how clean it is.

Maybe it is the ongoing drought in California, or maybe water has always been an important issue in semi-arid Colorado. Whatever the case, people want to know our stance on current water regulations, such as the new rain barrel bill. They want to know about lead, fluoride and what happens to the water before they drink it.

But the best part of working the Water Trailer is keeping everyone hydrated, and seeing the reactions when people drink our water. Many people, after taking that first sip, say it’s the best in the country. Visitors arriving by train to Union Station (where we strategically parked the trailer one Saturday), said they were surprised by the quality of our water. Some even asked where they could buy it!

It’s going to be a busy summer on the water education trail. Look for us at these events and keep the questions coming!

Photo from Servicios de la Raza's 2015 "Xulpantla" event at Columbus Park in Denver.

Photo from Servicios de la Raza’s 2015 “Xupantla” event at Columbus Park in Denver.

The “why” behind our fluoride policy

Denver Water’s board decided to continue community water fluoridation by weighing the evidence. Now you can, too.

By Denver Water staff

Denver Board of Water Commissioner members listen to information at the July 2015 fluoride information session.

Denver Board of Water Commissioners listen to information at the July 2015 fluoride information session.

In the end, it came down to the science. And there’s a lot of it.

On Aug. 26, the Denver Board of Water Commissioners voted to continue its practice of community water fluoridation.

That decision was not entirely unexpected. Denver Water has been regulating fluoride in the water since 1953, but board members said they took opposition to the policy seriously and requested a review of the latest science from the foremost national and local authorities to inform our policy.

Fluoride naturally occurs in many of Denver Water’s supply sources. We add fluoride as necessary to achieve an average concentration equal to the target recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Earlier this year, opponents of water fluoridation began appearing at Denver Water board meetings, urging commissioners to end the practice. In response, the board held a fluoride information session on July 29 and encouraged public input. Many individuals and organizations submitted comments and reference documents.

“We are just trying to educate people on this issue,” said Greg Gillette, a spokesman for We are Change Colorado, a group urging Denver Water to stop adding fluoride to water. “We hope everybody has an open mind.”

After reviewing the presentations, the extensive research on this issue, and the advice of public health and medical professionals in Colorado, the board announced there would be no change in its water fluoridation policy.

The resolution the board adopted at its meeting stated: “Nothing we heard through the presentations or learned in research would justify ignoring the advice of the public health agencies and medical organizations or deviating from the thoroughly researched and documented recommendation of the U.S. Public Health Service.”

Denver Water Commissioner Greg Austin went on record saying, “After careful consideration of the information put forth by both sides of the fluoridation debate, I am convinced that the community water fluoridation level recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service provides substantial health benefits, and is a safe, cost-effective and common sense contribution to the health of the public.”

The research on fluoridation is quite extensive. Here’s a sample of what board members and Denver Water staff reviewed:

  • The work of the Federal Panel on Community Water Fluoridation. This group of physicians, epidemiologists, environmental health experts, dental professionals, toxicologists, statisticians and economists re-examined water fluoridation levels.
    • In 2011, the U.S. Public Health Service published a proposed recommendation based on the conclusions of that panel.
    • The Public Health Service then received thousands of comments opposing community water fluoridation, raising the same categories of objections as those submitted to Denver Water at our public forum and during the public comment period.
    • The Panel did not identify compelling new information to alter its assessment that fluoride levels of 0.7 milligrams per liter provide the best balance of benefit to potential harm.
    • In May 2015, the Public Health Service issued its final decision document, adopting a recommendation to change to a single target fluoride concentration of 0.7 milligrams per liter.
  • Letters, documentation and personal stories from public and professional health organizations and medical professionals supporting the continuation of community water fluoridation. Notably, every public health agency operating in our service area urged us to continue our practice of managing fluoride concentrations in our drinking water.

Commissioners also noted that if Denver Water stopped managing fluoride levels, our customers would still be drinking fluoridated water.

“But the levels would vary significantly, creating an imbalance throughout our service area,” Denver Water Commissioner Penfield Tate said. “Community water fluoridation provides dental health benefits across all socioeconomic communities in a predictable and uniform manner.”

Filter beds at a Denver Water treatment plant. Fluoride is added after filtration, prior to disinfection. Learn more about the treatment process:

Filter beds at a Denver Water treatment plant. Fluoride is added after filtration, prior to disinfection.

“Community water fluoridation is a public health action, which by definition protects the health of the population in general, and sometimes conflicts with individual choice,” said Denver Water General Counsel Patricia Wells. “Those who object to fluoridated water do have alternatives, such as nonfluoridated bottled water or in-home filtering systems.”

With their decision, the commissioners said they were relying on experts who bear the responsibility to protect the health of the public. Community water fluoridation provides health benefits to all our customers, at all stages and ages of their lives, regardless of their access to health care or their adherence to healthy living guidelines.

Denver Water consumers can inform themselves about fluoride levels in their water by accessing readily available public information on our website.



What’s in the water?

Denver Water hosts information session about water fluoridation as board members look for guidance on future policy decisions

By Steve Snyder


Denver Water gets its water supply from the roaring runoff of the Rocky Mountains’ snowpack. It’s a great source of water — one where fluoride naturally occurs. In fact, Denver Water only supplements fluoride levels at its treatment plants when the natural concentration falls below the levels recommended by state and national health organizations.

Still, community water fluoridation has long been a contentious subject. With that in mind, Denver Water recently held a public fluoride information session, so its board members could hear the latest information about water fluoridation.

“We have heard a lot of public comment on fluoride recently,” Denver Water Commissioner Penfield Tate said. “We wanted to bring the proponents and the opponents together to hear their opinions, understand the latest science and gather all of the information to inform our policy deliberation.”

“We are just trying to educate people,” said Greg Gillette, a spokesman for We are Change Colorado, a group hoping to stop Denver Water from adding fluoride to water. “This should be a good debate. We hope everybody has an open mind.”

Speakers on both sides of the issues presented a wide range of information. And the takeaway for the commissioners?

“The takeaway is that people feel passionately about this,” Tate said. “Opinions also vary dramatically. The science appears to be consistent, but there is a dispute about how you interpret the data. We have a lot to consider.”

Board members will weigh all of the information presented and are expected to take action on the fluoride policy at their Aug. 26 board meeting. Public comments are still welcome on the subject until Aug. 12 through the following venues:



U.S. Mail:
Denver Board of Water Commissioners
Attn: Matt Wittern, APR
1600 West 12th Ave
Denver, CO  80204

You can view the fluoride information session in its entirety here along with all of the speakers’ presentations.

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