Ballina Shire Council and Rous Water spent almost half a million dollars defending the decision to fluoridate local water supplies.
In a report to Ballina council recently, councillors were told $170,000 had been spent defending a challenge from environmental activist Al Oshlack.
It’s understood Mr Oshlack has agreed to repay $30,000.
Meanwhile, Rous Water general manager Kyme Lavelle told Echonetdaily that it was “fair to say our costs were higher than that”.
‘Our costs in the NSW Land and Environment Court were in excess of $220,000 and we are negotiating with Mr Oshlack for recovery of monies,’ he said.
Rous Water recently awarded a contract worth almost $3 million to Aquatech Maxcon Pty Ltd for the construction of four dosing plants.
They will be located at Durroughby, Corndale, Clunes and Knockrow, and will fluoridate the supply to most water customers in the Ballina, Lismore and Richmond Valley council areas.
Ballina council is constructing a plant at Marom Creek to supply fluoridated water to Wardell residents. It is expected to be finished this year.
As a result of a decision by Byron shire council, fluoridated water will not be supplied to Byron residents, although the council is still expected to contribute to ongoing maintenance costs, as it is a member of Rous Water.
‘Byron is still responsible for some costs,” Mr Lavelle said.
‘’The other communities have to wear the costs of four dosing plants because if Byron was in it it would have only been two dosing plants.’
Nimbin will also escapes fluoridation as it has its own water supply, while Casino is already supplied with fluoridated water.
Rous Water technical services manager Wayne Franklin said it was expected that the four dosing plants would be operational by Easter next year.
‘Rous awarded the contract about six weeks so they are well into the design phase. The contractors are expected to start building before Christmas,’ Mr Franklin said.
Once the dosing plants are operating, it’s expected that the ongoing costs of fluoridating the water will be around $300,000 each year.
Neither Ballina nor Rous Water received money from the state government to defend the legal challenge against the decision to fluoridate the water supply.