Fluoride levels in Santa Fe's water supply are currently slightly below newly recommended levels issued by the federal government as well as levels outlined in city law, a city official tells SFR.

On April 27, the US Health and Human Services Department adjusted its recommended level of fluoride in community water supplies to 0.7 milligram per liter—a slight downward adjustment from its previous recommended range of 0.7-1.2 milligrams per liter.

The Environmental Protection Agency describes fluoride compounds as "salts that form when the element, fluorine, combines with minerals in soil or rocks." It occurs naturally in water supplies like the Rio Grande. But Americans have been adding it to drinking systems for decades, because, in the words of US Deputy Surgeon General Rear Admiral Boris D Lushniak, "Community water fluoridation continues to reduce tooth decay in children and adults beyond that provided by using only toothpaste and other fluoride-containing products." Now, the agency says, more sources are available.

Alex Puglisi, an environmental and compliance officer for the city, says "we're below 0.7" because several fluoridation units are temporarily offline. But he notes that the HHS recommendation is a guideline—not a mandate—and that city officials will attempt to reach the 0.7 level.

Santa Fe's fluoridation levels currently range from 0.45 to 0.55 milligram per liter, he says.

In 2012, city councilors attempted to update Santa Fe's code to reflect the anticipated 0.7 recommendation. The measure failed after it ignited a debate about whether City Hall should be fluoridating the water supply at all.

The current ordinance, on the books for decades but not strictly followed, calls on city officials to maintain fluoridation levels of 0.8 to 1.2 milligrams per liter.