Residents have five weeks left to make submissions to Bega Valley Shire Council on the possible extension of fluoridation to drinking water across the shire.
Bega Valley Shire Council’s manager of water and sewage services, Jim Collins, said that 57 submissions had been received since council’s ‘Have Your Say’ on fluoride page went live on its website before Christmas.
“I would like to see many more submissions,” Mr Collins said, while thanking people who had already made a submission.
Mr Collins urged residents to read the information on council’s website, including the latest position paper from the National Health and Medical Research Council, as well as other material from the Australian Dental Association, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.
The deadline for written submissions to the council’s website is Friday, March 10, 2017.
He said that while fluoridation was an issue that tended to polarise opinions, people who supported it were generally less likely to make submissions.
There are four water supply systems serving communities in the shire – Bega-Tathra, Tantawanglo-Kiah, Brogo-Bermagui and Bemboka.
Fluoride has been added to the Bega-Tathra water supply system since 1963.
“There has been a great deal of discussion on fluoridation issue,” Mr Collins said.
“The final decision on whether or not to extend fluoridation to all water supply systems rests with the new council,” he said.
Council has been working closely with NSW Health and it was expected that the department would brief councillors prior to the decision on the matter.
Other groups, both pro- and anti- fluoridation, were also likely to address council, he said.
It would take a “number of months” after the March 10 deadline for the issue to be fully debated by council, he said, stressing the importance of the councillors and the community having a full understanding of the issue.
Council recently sent 1300 letters to property owners whose premises were connected to the shire’s water supply informing them of the proposal, as well advertising in the media, he said.
Council is in the process of upgrading its water supply infrastructure, including water treatment facilities, within the Tantawanglo-Kiah and Brogo-Bermagui water supply systems.
As part of the upgrades, council is considering adding fluoride to these water supplies.
The Bemboka water supply system is not being considered at this stage but it may be reassessed in the future if more people move to the area and it is cost effective.