The Geelong region will drink fluoride before the end of June next year after State Government fast-tracked plans to fluoridate the water supply.
But fluoridation opponents have threatened “blood will flow in the streets” in protests against the plan.
State chief health officer Dr John Carnie announced on Wednesday that the secretary of the Department of Human Services had requested Barwon Water introduce fluoride in the 2008/2009 financial year.
A spokesperson said DHS would pay for two plants to fluoridate the region at a cost of around $500,000 each.
Barwon Water chairman Roger Lowrey said investigations on building the plants would begin “immediately”.
The timing of the project could help eliminate fluoride as an election issue for the Government. The next election is due on November 27, 2010, almost 18 months after fluoride will begin flowing through the region.
Fluoride was not expected in Geelong’s water until after a pipe-line started pumping fluoridated water from Melbourne in 2011.
Dr Carnie said fluoride’s dental health benefits were proven.
“Water fluoridation is safe and effective and helps protect everybody’s teeth against decay regardless of age, gender, income and education levels.”
Water Minister Tim Holding said the Government had consulted the community “extensively”.
“Ultimately the Government has to make a judgement in the interest of the entire community.”
But opponents said the announcement broke a pre-2006 election promise that the Government would give residents a vote on fluoridation.
Barwon Association for Freedom from Fluoridation spokes-man David McRae said Health Minister Daniel Andrews had written that “it is not our intention to conduct a public vote” prior to fluoridation “at this time”.
Mr McRae said the announcement was a “betrayal”.
“There will be blood on the streets, blood on the pipeline,” he said.
Mr McRae said protesters intended to blockade construction of the plants and the Melbourne-Geelong pipeline.