Buffalo water lacquering fluoride since 2015

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said Friday that he was not immediately notified of the change but should have been.

BUFFALO, NY — Mayor Byron Brown has taken responsibility for the City of Buffalo not doing a better job of alerting customers that the hasn’t been adding fluoride to the water system in years.

The Buffalo News first reported that the water board stopped adding fluoride in 2015, saying it was part of an upgrade to the system.

Mayor Brown said Friday he was not immediately notified of the change but should have been. He said that powder fluoride used to be added manually, and the upgrade allowed liquid fluoride to be added automatically.

But during that upgrade, there were concerns it could cause corrosion and lead may potentially get into the system.

In the light of the crisis in Flint, Mich., the mayor said the water board decided to do years worth of testing to make sure this could all be safe.

Over all of those years, the only alerts to the public went largely “unnoticed,” he said, meaning families assumed there was fluoride in the system when there wasn’t.

That has led to countless cavities for children in the Queen City that could have been avoided.

“Ultimately the buck stops with me,” Mayor Brown said. “It’s not the (Buffalo Common Council), so the buck ultimately stops with me. You know, like others, I wasn’t immediately notified, but I should have been, and we should have put the information out to the community.

“No excuse for it. Again, the water board did what it did to protect the quality of Buffalo water in the changeover in the system.”

The only public notice about the change came in the annual drinking water quality report from the water board. The report stated on page 6:

“Since June 22, 2015, fluoride has not been added to your drinking water, and we do not expect fluoride addition to be restored until completion of various capital projects. You may want to discuss this with your family dentist to see if some other form of fluoride supplement should be considered for your dental protection.”

The mayor said that by the end of this year, the conversion will be complete, and liquid fluoride will be automatically added to Buffalo water.

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