News stories – Countdown to F-Day: Fluoride removed from water

This article was originally published in print in The Herbert River Express on May 6 2017

THE fluoridation taps have been turned off as Hinchinbrook Shire makes the transition towards becoming a fluoride-free council area.

Council ceased adding fluoride to the town’s water supply at the Ingham, Forrest Beach and Lower Herbert water treatment plants on Tuesday.

CEO Dan Mckinlay said it would take approximately two to three weeks for the fluoridated water to be replaced by non-fluoridated water in Hinchinbrook’s water storage reservoirs.

Mr McKinlay said staff who were originally employed at the plants — whose wages represented $77,000 of the $140,000 cost of adding fluoride to the water supply each year — would continue to work with council on ongoing water treatment duties.

“Fluoride was only one part of our water treatment process,” Mr McKinlay said.

“Staff who were previously involved with fluoride will continue working on the treatment of water and sewerage works as part of their ongoing job.”

He said once the dosing lines were disconnected and injection points removed, council would continue to sample, monitor and test the water until the fluoride dropped to naturally occurring levels.

Mr McKinlay said it was also important to note that the water would never be completely free of fluoride because a minute quantity of naturally occurring fluoride levels would still be present.

“These levels are generally around 0.06 mg/l or less,” Mr McKinlay said.

The Water Fluoridation Act 2008 requires a water provider to give 30 days notice of a decision to cease adding fluoride.

Hinchinbrook Shire Council’s notice advised council has now ceased dosing fluoride to Ingham, Trebonne, Toobanna, Blackrock, Forrest Beach, Taylors Beach, Cordelia, Halifax, Lucinda, Macknade and Bemerside. Hinchinbrook Shire Council first started fluoridating the water supply in early May 2013. A four-three vote by councillors in favour of reversing that decision was delivered at its March meeting.

A spokesman for the Australian Dental Association, Dr Michael Foley, said he was disappointed council bowed down to the pressure of “misinformed campaigning from eccentric fringe groups”.

Meanwhile, Queenslanders for Safe Water, Air and Food president Merilyn Haines said it was a “victory for commonsense and respecting the community”.

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