Buffalo residents sue city, water board over lacquer of fluoride

In a 55-page lawsuit, the three plaintiffs are alleging that the city violated their constitutional right to a healthy environment.

BUFFALO, NY — The City of Buffalo is in hot water and facing legal action from three of its residents.

“The community needs a lot more answers about what the timeline has been here,” said Robert Corp, the plaintiffs’ attorney.

In a 55-page lawsuit, the three plaintiffs are alleging that the city violated their constitutional right to a healthy environment under the state’s Green Amendment by depriving them of fluoridated drinking water.

The city stopped adding fluoride in 2015 after attempting to make an upgrade to its water system that would switch the process of adding fluoride from manual to automatic.

But out of concern for lead contamination, the water board decided to run years’ worth of tests while removing fluoride from the city’s water system altogether.

“Ultimately the buck stops with me,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said Friday. “Like others, I was not immediately notified. But I should have been.”

It comes just days after the city and Mayor Brown publicly took responsibility for the lack of communication in alerting residents of the city’s changes to the water system with the only public notice of the change coming in the most recent yearly drinking water report. It stated that since June 22, 2015, fluoride has not been added to the drinking water and that they do not expect fluoride addition to being restored until the completion of various capital projects.

“We should have put the information out to the community,” Brown said. “No excuse for it. Again, the water board did what it did to protect the quality of Buffalo water and the changeover in the system.”

In addition to seeking monetary damages for all the residents and the immediate addition of fluoride to the water, the plaintiffs are calling for the city to add dental clinics to reverse some of the harm that has been done.

“If they had been on notice that they needed to find alternative sources of fluoride, maybe we could have all proactively found a way to get that done,” Corp said.

The mayor did say Friday that by the end of 2023, the system conversion will be complete and liquid fluoride will be automatically added to Buffalo water, but the plaintiff’s lawyer said his clients want that change to happen much sooner than that.

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