Are you concerned about a lack of fluoride in your drinking water?
If so, you may want to attend a public information session next week.
An open meeting for Welland and Pelham residents is slated for Days Inn, 1030 Niagara Street, on July 23. The meeting runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will be moderated by John Armstrong of OEB International.
In May, public works staff have recommended Niagara Region formally end water fluoridation. The recommendation drew opposition from a few residents at the time, prompting the public meeting.
In Niagara only Welland and some residents in both Pelham and Thorold have received fluoridated water.
Residents of St. Catharines and Niagara Falls rejected fluoridation in referendums.
Residential drinking water in Welland and the part of Pelham served by Niagara Region’s Welland infrastructure has not received fluoridated water since 1999.
According to a Niagara Region report, Welland’s fluoridation system was inoperative about 60 per cent of the time between 1994 and 1999, because the corrosive nature of fluoride caused leaks in water pipes and workplace safety concerns. (Thorold’s fluoridation system was taken off line in 2002.)
The region’s public health department says fluoridated drinking water helps prevent tooth decay.
According to a regional public works report dated May 16 the health department also notes there are many more ways for people to access fluoride through toothpaste, mouthwash and even some processed foods so, “the magnitude of the (tooth decay) reduction is not as large as in the past.”
The report is available online by clicking on the link at www.regional.niagara.on.ca/living/water/Fluoride.aspx.
Background fluoride levels in Welland’s drinking water is in the range of 0.08 to 0.11 milligrams per litre.
The report states there are “minimal” costs for officially scrapping fluoridation. Those costs would be incurred for removing existing equipment and piping.
If fluoridation is reintroduced in Welland and Thorold there will be costs for regional ratepayers.
The report pegs the high level costs at $500,000 to bring the two fluoridation stations in Welland and Thorold back into operation.
The high level estimate of operating and maintenance costs are $90,000 annually.
Even if elected officials support that action, Niagara Region will have to deal with providing fluoridated water to Pelham residents who have never officially approved it through a municipal referendum.
Some areas of Fonthill were on a well-fed water system until 2002 when it was brought on to the Welland-Pelham infrastructure.
Other more expensive options that could be considered will also be outlined at the July 23 meeting.
A second meeting for Thorold residents is planned for the following evening, also from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., in Niagara Region council chambers.