By Parker Leavitt
The Arizona Republic
The fluoridation system that was shut down last year at a Gilbert water-treatment plant likely failed because of faulty engineering that posed a possible health hazard to employees, according to town documents and statements from two former water division employees.
When Gilbert voters approved fluoridation in 2000, the town’s only treatment plant wasn’t properly suited to inject fluoride, a cavity-fighting chemical, into the water supply, according to a memo that then-Public Works Director Lonnie Frost wrote to Assistant Town Manager Marc Skocypec last month.
Citing health concerns, then-Water Manager Chris Ochs shut down the fluoridation system at Gilbert’s North Water Treatment Plant on July 16, 2011.
Although Ochs told The Arizona Republic in an interview that he informed Frost of the problem, the news apparently didn’t reach upper management until August of this year, 13 months after the shutdown.
Both Ochs and Frost were put on paid leave last month while the town investigated the stoppage. Ochs was later fired, and Frost retired after 28 years with the town. Frost declined repeated requests from The Republic for comment.