WESTERN Water has defended the absence of fluoride in Melton and Moorabool’s drinking water for the past seven months.
Early last year, Western Water said it decided to progressively switch its drinking water supply in these areas from Melbourne to Merrimu Reservoir. Customers were informed about the change in February, but were not told about the absence of fluoride.
Western Water managing director John Wilkinson said the lack of fluoride arose because the Merrimu water filtration did not meet stringent new Department of Health guidelines.
Work started in November to upgrade the fluoridation facilities and Melton and Moorabool customers are expected to get fluoridated water within the next two months, he said.
Mr Wilkinson said the absence of fluoride for the past seven months would have minimal health effects.
“Fluoride is retained in teeth and bones and stored by the body, so a relatively short period of time without fluoride in the drinking water would have minimal impact, as long as people are practising good dental health,” Mr Wilkinson said.
“Western Water strongly supports fluoridation of our drinking water supplies and at no time have we considered ceasing fluoridation of water supplied to our customers.”
Moorabool Mayor Pat Griffin said he was disappointed that the shire was not told about the absence of fluoride.
“It’s taken seven months before we found it and I think it does warrant an investigation,” Cr Griffin said.
“If people had known about the removal of fluoride, they could have investigated other options.”
Djerriwarrh Health Services chief executive Bruce Marshall said drinking water containing fluoride helped oral health.
“Fluoride in the water is especially beneficial,” Mr Marshall said.
Melton state Labor MP Don Nardella said fluoridation was “absolutely essential” and clients should have been informed earlier.
The Department of Human Services said water fluoridation helped protect teeth against decay for people of all ages.