CLONCURRY Shire Council’s water and waste water environment officer, Shane Noon told the Shire Council at yesterday’s council meeting that he had received an email from the Deputy Premier’s office asking whether or not Cloncurry wanted fluoridation.
Cloncurry Shire Council had already applied for a $650,000 grant to cover a new treatment plant to accommodate fluoridation and the grant had been approved, Mr Noon said.
“If the council doesn’t want to proceed with fluoridation, they need to apply for an exemption,” he said.
His suggestion was to go out to the public to gauge public opinion on the issue.
“Public Health is pushing hard for fluoride to be implemented.
“Harrison Grierson (consultancy) are ready to do a program on the implementation,” he said.
Asked by the Mayor of Cloncurry Andrew Daniels, what ongoing costs fluoridation would incur, Mr Noon said there would be direct costs of about $48,000 per year, but because of fluoridation’s safety points – it was a highly volatile product – the council might need to employ extra staff.
“That could increase costs to $90,000 per year, along with the extra power component needed for batching plants, dosing plants and metres.”
Mr Noon said the public meeting and the issue could be publicised on the council website.
His recommendation was to continue to provide for fluoridation in the water treatment program.
“Another change of government four years down the track may reverse this decision,” Mr Noon said.
He said he was unsure whether the council would still get the grant if they made the decision not to go ahead with fluoridation.
Cr Daniels said it was an important decision.
“It would be cheaper to get a load of bore water from Julia Creek and chuck it in (to Cloncurry’s water supply),” he joked, while Councillor Jane McMillan pointed out that Cloncurry’s water did have some naturally occurring fluoride.
Councillor Keith Douglas expressed some exasperation with the process.
“We’re cleaning people’s teeth now; next thing we’ll be changing nappies.”
After the meeting, Cr Daniels said the fluoridation issue should have been optional right from the start.
“It’s the ongoing costs that are a concern to this council.”
In 2008, the Queensland Government introduced the Water Fluoridation Act 2008, requiring all water supplies serving more than 1000 people to introduce fluoride into their water system by December 2011.
In the June 19 Cloncurry Shire Council meeting, Mr Noon described the delays in getting Cloncurry’s new water treatment design for fluoridation underway.
Yesterday he said the new water treatment plant would be ready by February 8, 2013.