District News Articles

  2. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency changed the standards and guidelines on fluoride in drinking water. Addition of fluoride to drinking water supplies is recommended by Centers for Disease Control, HHS, and the American Dental Association to help prevent tooth decay, particularly in children. It was recognized by the CDC as one of the ten greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. The agency lowered the recommended concentration of fluoride from a range of 0.7–1.2 mg/L to a flat 0.7 mg/L. Denver Water (the District’s water source) began targeting the 0.7 milligrams per liter in its water in January 2011 when this level was first proposed by the HHS.


    At its meeting on August 26, 2015, the Denver Board of Water Commissioners voted to uphold Denver Water’s more than 60-year-old policy of adhering to the recommendations of major public health agencies regarding community water fluoridation. The decision was made after the board and staff held an information session with presentations for and against fluoridation, and reviewed and researched the latest science and recommendations of national, state and local public health agencies and medical professionals. During the public comment period, nearly 1,200 comments were received from individuals and organizations.


    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.”


    Fluoride is a naturally occurring compound in Denver Water’s source water. It enters the water when fluoride-rich minerals in soils and rock dissolve. The natural background fluoride concentrations for Denver’s source water typically ranges from 0.08 mg/L to 0.90 mg/L. The water treatment process removes a small amount of naturally occurring fluoride.


    Fluoride is supplemented at Denver Water’s treatment plants only when the concentrations in Denver’s drinking water fall below the levels recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service and supported by the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Medical Association, the American Dental Association, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).


    “If Denver Water were to cease supplementing fluoride, customers would still receive fluoridated drinking water, but the levels would vary significantly, creating an imbalance throughout our service area,” said Denver Water Commissioner Penfield Tate.


    Denver Water received comments from every public health agency in its service area urging continuation of the practice of managing fluoride levels in drinking water.


    The resolution the board adopted at its meeting stated: “Nothing has been presented to the Board or learned in our research that would justify ignoring the advice of these public health agencies and medical and community organizations, or deviating from the thoroughly researched and documented recommendation of the U.S. Public Health Service.”


    In light of recently updated fluoridation recommendations from the U.S. Public Health Service and in response to a request by a group of individuals opposed to community water fluoridation, Denver Water hosted a fluoride information session on July 29, 2015. Board members heard presentations both for and against fluoridation and collected public input before and after the session to ensure the fluoridation policy continues to be informed by the latest expert opinions and represents the values of the customers and communities served by Denver Water.


    History of Fluoride in Colorado – it all began here


    The effect of fluoridation on the prevention of tooth decay was first identified in Colorado Springs in the early 1900s. High levels of natural fluoride caused discoloration of tooth enamel but prevented cavities.


    Fluoride was first added to Denver’s water in 1953, when Denver Water and the City of Denver’s Department of Health and Hospitals entered into an agreement to fluoridate the water.


    To read more about Colorado’s historical relationship with Fluoride, please visit the National Institutes of Health “The Story of Fluoridation” page.


    If you have further questions about exactly what is in your water, please check out Denver Water's annual water quality report which describe the overall quality of water from its raw collection and storage to the treated purity at your tap.  You can check out the most recent report as well as those in previous years here.


    For more specific information regarding fluoride in Denver Water’s drinking water, contact Maria Rose at Denver Water’s Water Quality Lab, at 303-628-5996. The CDC also has information on its website,