THE Upper Lachlan Shire Council has taken the first steps in a process which could see the addition of fluoride to the Crookwell water supply.
At its meeting last week the Council adopted a recommendation from the Water and Sewer Manager, Mr. Luke Moloney, that it refer the matter of fluoridation to the Director General of the NSW Department of Health.
Councillors at an earlier meeting at Gunning had expressed support for the scheme following a presentation on the benefits of fluoridation by an officer of the Department of Health.
Funding of up to 100 per cent is available for the capital cost of dosing facilities, with only the minor additional cost of chemicals in ongoing operations.
However, Mr. Moloney said this subsidy was typically only available to supplies serving populations of more than a thousand people because small supply systems usually did not have a permanent operator.
“Alternative programs are available to smaller communities,” he added.
Supporting fluoridation, Mr. Moloney said the overwhelming majority of dental practitioners, dental academics and other health professionals in Australia support its addition to public water supplies.
“The proven protective benefits have been instrumental in the decline of dental decay in Australia over the past fifty years,” Mr. Moloney said.
“Despite the strong evidence of the benefits, the decision to fluoridate water supplies is by no means a small decision for Council to make, and has been met with considerable opposition in a number of communities across Australia.
“Opposition is typically based on linking fluoridation with other health conditions and disease.
“The safety and effectiveness of water fluoridation have been frequently re-evaluated and no credible evidence supports an association with any conditions such as cancer, osteoporosis and bone fracture, Alzheimer’s disease, allergic reactions and other health conditions.”
Mr. Moloney said Council could decide to fluoride the supply itself, conduct a public referendum or refer the matter to the NSW Health Department.
If the latter, the Department would deal with all complaints and inquiries, and would also be responsible for the community education program required before fluoridation could commence.
Mr. Moloney pointed out that as of November 26 last, the majority of the eastern seaboard is fluoridated, with Hastings, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey and Bellingen Local Government areas the most recent additions.
“The Department is the authority on these matters, and having undertaken extensive research to the effect of fluoridating water supplies is best placed to determine the appropriateness of adopting a fluoride policy.”
Councillors adopted Mr. Moloney’s recommendation that the fluoridation of the Crookwell water supply by referred to the Department, and that the Department be asked to consider alternative fluoride options for Council’s village and rural populations.