The COVID-19 pandemic prompted Epcor to delay the rehabilitation project in order to adhere to health and safety measures, spokeswoman Kelly Struski told Postmedia Friday. With enhanced safety protocols for workers and appropriate protective equipment in place, Struski said the goal is to resume adding fluoride by late fall.“To effectively reintroduce fluoride treatment requires our staff to be in close contact to one another for prolonged periods in a small space and needed special considerations before moving ahead,” Struski said in an email. “We have advised Alberta Environment and Parks and Alberta Health that we have delayed the reintroduction of fluoride until we are able to safely recommission the facility.”The delay impacts all homes serviced by the E.L. Smith Plant, which covers the majority of the city as well as several surrounding municipalities including Spruce Grove, St. Albert and Leduc. The northeast quadrant of the city is serviced by the Rossdale Water Treatment Plant and hasn’t had any fluoride interruption.A full list of Edmonton neighbourhoods impacted by the fluoride pause can be found on Epcor’s website.[see ?Edmonton neighbourhoods affected by fluoride interruption below]Fluoride has been added to Edmonton’s water supply since 1967 and is considered to be the easiest and most practical way to improve dental health and prevent tooth decay. When consumed, the mineral strengthens teeth by making the enamel more resistant to damage. Adding fluoride to the water supply is a decision of individual municipalities and isn’t done in some communities. It has long been a debate in Calgary, with city council most recently voting to end the process in 2011.
Edmonton’s North Saskatchewan River already has fluoride levels around 0.1 parts per million so enough fluoride is added during the treatment process to bring the concentration levels up to 0.7 parts per million.
For those residents affected by the fluoride interruption, Alberta Health Services is recommending the use of fluoridated toothpaste to make up for the disruption as well as regular dental check-ups.
The water remains safe to drink during the interruption and there is no change in taste or colour.