AN INCREASE of 40% in Bundaberg Regional Council water rates has been flagged as the council prepares for fluoridation of its water supply.
The State Government has committed to having fluoridation in place for all Queenslanders by 2012, but Cr Alan Bush said it had reneged on its promise of funding to help councils put in the necessary infrastructure.
“They initially said they would help us with the costs, but now they say they are not going to do it for fluoridating underground water, only surface water,” he said.
Cr Bush, who oversees water and wastewater issues, said 70% of the region’s drinking water came from underground water, and the council would have to put in the infrastructure to fluoridate it.
“We’re going to have to increase water rates by 40% or not provide as good a service,” he said.
Cr Bush said fluoridation was one area where the State Government set the guidelines with no debate or community consultation.
“We only drink 1% of our treated water – the rest of the fluoridated water will go on sports fields or down toilets,” he said.
Cr Bush said one of the biggest challenges coming up was a council plan to sewer the whole coastline strip from Burnett Heads to Elliott Heads.
This would also involve the decommissioning of the East Bundaberg waste water treatment plant and the building of a super treatment plant to handle the result.
Cr Bush said the project had not been fully costed yet and he had no idea what the price would be.
One project on hold was a plan to pump treated water from Bargara to a holding pond for Bundaberg Sugar to use for irrigation.
“It’s still on the books; we’re hoping to get some federal funding,” he said.
Cr Bush refused to rate himself or the council, although he said it was doing a good job compared with its neighbours.
“How can you rate yourself? That’s up to others to do,” he said.