TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently
honored Tinker’s water treatment plant for excellence in maintaining proper
fluoridation levels that boost public health.
The base is one of only 30 public water systems in Oklahoma to
earn the honor, and among 1,510 nationwide.
The Water Fluoridation Quality Award recognizes community water
systems that have maintained a consistent fluoridated water level at least nine
months this year.
“Water fluoridation is one of the best investments that communities
can make in maintaining the oral health of their citizens,” said Casey Hannan,
acting director of the CDC Division of Oral Health. “It is equally as effective
in preventing cavities in children and adults. Fluoridation is also highly cost
effective. Studies continue to show that for every dollar invested by
communities in water fluoridation, $38 is saved in dental treatment costs.”
The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced the award Nov.
1. Tinker’s water and wastewater managers report fluoride levels to the
department, which partners with the CDC.
“OSDH supports community water fluoridation and recognizes the
practice as beneficial to all who drink and use the water,” said Dr. Jana
Winfree, the department’s director of dental health service. “Preventive dental
care programs, such as community water fluoridation, make a real difference
improving the health status of Oklahomans. We acknowledge the contribution of
Tinker Air Force Base to public health.”
Plant Supervisor Jason Avery said the award was great news for
more than a dozen employees of the Industrial Wastewater and Water Treatment
“It’s an honor and we really appreciate it,” Mr. Avery said. “For
everyone out here, it’s good for morale.”
Fluoride is added to the water supply before it flows to the
base’s residential areas, where it is the most beneficial for tenants.
Twenty-two wells on base provide the water that is treated before consumption.
Fluoride levels are checked twice a day, Mr. Avery said.
Key water-quality personnel include Water Plant Manager Doug
Mitchell and personnel from the 72nd Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight, led
by Lt. Col. Steve Boglarski, flight commander, and Doug Woods, drinking water
program manager. A team of biotechnicians including Senior Airman Heaven Yang
and Airman 1st Class Kristina Song regularly monitor the fluoridation levels
and other water quality factors at locations throughout the base water
Lt. Col. Boglarski said many people often think bottled water is
better for them because they’re paying for it.
“In reality, bottled water has no fluoride in it, so it does
nothing to prevent tooth decay,” the lieutenant colonel said. “The tap water is
optimized to provide the best levels of fluoride to the consumer, which provides
a substantial benefit to your health, and especially to children, in preventing
Community water fluoridation has been recognized by the CDC as one
of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. Currently,
nearly 75 percent of citizens (211 million) have access to optimally
fluoridated tap water.
The CDC recommends water fluoridation as one of the most practical
and safe measures communities can take to prevent tooth decay and improve oral