It has been a long time coming but Greater Lithgow’s water supply could finally undergo fluoridation treatment within a few months.
Lithgow Council’s Group Manager Regional Services, Andrew Muir, said yesterday that a necessary preliminary report from government agencies had arrived only this week.
It would have to be analysed by Council officers before going before a meeting of Council for consideration.
“We have to get some issues formally gazetted before we can proceed further,” Mr Muir said.
The report outlines procedures for gazettal of the proposal, particularly the preliminary infrastructure issue of installation of a flow meter.
Once these issues are completed and there is approval for the treatment plant to be installed the project will be fully funded by NSW Health.
The department will decide what sort of plants will be installed.
It is likely that two such plants will be necessary, one on the Farmers Creek supply and another at Duckmaloi for those local consumers on the Fish River supply.
“The issues with the depleted Fish River supply have not helped in the planning,” Mr Muir said, “ but we hope to eventually get to the point where our supply for the entire Council area is fully independent and there is only one supply.
“This would mean only one treatment plant would be needed.
“It’s the Duckmaloi plant that complicates things.”
There had been a lot of red tape in the proceedings.
Mr Muir said it was now likely the fluoridation program would be up and running in the final quarter of this year.
Proposals for fluoridation of the water supply have been before Council for a long time.
Years ago Council rejected a bid for fluoridation largely on the basis of costs but the issue was revived in more recent times after representations from NSW Health.
Officers from the department attended several meetings of Council to outline the need for fluoridation and provided statistics that raised concerns about the dental health of children in the Lithgow area compared with those in the Local Government areas including Bathurst and Blue Mountains where fluoridation was already a fact of life.
Anti fluoridation groups, mainly based in Queensland, also lobbied Council in a bid to have the treatment rejected.
But the NSW Health arguments had swayed the views of Councillors and more than 18 months ago the Council voted to introduce fluoride to the system.
Mr Muir agreed there had been a lengthy delay in reaching the present stage of the project but said this had largely been due to the unexpected death of a NSW Health senior official who had been instrumental in the negotiations.