For over 75 years, people in the United States have been drinking water with added fluoride. Fluoridated water keeps teeth strong, reduces tooth decay by about 25% in children and adults, and saves the US health care system money.
Still, not every area in Florida has community-wide water fluoridation. Recently, Florida Voices for Health completed an assessment of the "South Dade Water System" (formerly MDWASA/REX UTILITIES) as a project of the Florida Department of Health. Our goal was to understand the needs of the community and determine whether South Dade Water System is "Prime" for a fluoridation educational campaign. The South Miami-Dade Water System is located south of SW 264th Street in the unincorporated areas of Leisure City, Everglades Labor Camp, and Naranja and serves approximately 46,673 people.Through an intensive assessment process, we found that South Miami-Dade County can be designated as Prime and ready to take this important step forward in public health.
Unfortunately, the South Miami-Dade System is NOT optimally fluoridated. Its natural fluoridation levels (0.20 mg/L) are below the recommended level (0.70 mg/L) for the prevention of tooth decay.
In 1985, the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department (MDWASD) purchased an existing private utility known as the Rex Utility District Water System. Today, this system is referred to as the South Dade Water System. The existing system consists of 5 small treatment plants (Elevated Tank, Everglades Labor Camp, Leisure City, Naranja, Newton) that draw groundwater from 12 wells located at the plant sites. These small treatment plants capacities are limited by the pumping capabilities at each plant.
The two (2) active wells located in the Elevated Tank wellfield were constructed in 1982 and 1996. The wellfield’s capacity totals 4.32 mgd or 1,500 gpm for each well.
Everglades Labor Camp
The three (3) active wells located in the Everglades wellfield were constructed from 2000 to 2001. The wellfield’s capacity totals 5.04 mgd, ranging between or 700 and 1,500 gpm for each well .
The four (4) active wells located in the Leisure City wellfield were constructed between 1953 and 1971. The wellfield’s capacity totals 4.18 mgd, ranging between or 450 and 1,500 gpm for each well.
Naranja (On Stand-By)
The only active well located in the Naranja wellfield was constructed in 1975.
The two (2) active wells located in the Newton wellfield were constructed in 2000 and 2001. The wellfield’s capacity totals 4.32mgdor 1,500 gpm for each well
To determine whether the South Miami-Dade Water System is prime for next steps in a fluoridation campaign, we engaged in a series of activities including:
Engaged water management officials through phone calls assessing the current infrastructure and political landscape
Compiled and reviewed local demographics and health outcomes data; and
Engaged local community-based organizations for perspectives on community needs and to explore potential partnerships.
As of (6/22/22) the South Dade Water System (formerly MDWASA/ Rex Utilities) is designated as Prime for a fluoridation educational campaign.
Considering the findings of our assessment and the presence of community-wide fluoridation throughout the rest of Miami-Dade County water plants, residents of SW Miami-Dade should benefit from this important public health measure. To achieve this critical improvement, fluoridation supporters need to:
Educate and raise awareness among Miami-Dade County Commissioners and Mayor.
Organize a community outreach campaign featuring coordinated communications targeting the general public.
Complete a cost analysis of incorporating fluoridated water into the current system.