FLUORIDE will be added to water supplies in Warrnambool, Allansford and Koroit within a year.
Health professionals and politicians applauded the decision, citing benefits to dental health.
Outraged opponents, however, claimed there had been no opportunity for open debate on the issue.
Victoria’s chief health officer, John Carnie, made the announcement yesterday, a day after The Standard revealed it was imminent.
“Water fluoridation is safe and effective and helps protect everybody’s teeth against decay regardless of age, gender, income or education levels,” he said.
“The decision to fluoridate Warrnambool, Allansford and Koroit’s drinking water supply has been taken following the provision of information to these communities about fluoridation.
“The dental health benefits of fluoridated water supplies are proven.
“All the medical scientific research validates its use.”
The State Government will give Wannon Water several hundred thousand dollars to build treatment plant facilities, the Department of Human Services said.
Wannon Water managing director Grant Green said the request created a legal obligation to fluoridate the supply.
“Wannon Water will inform the community of the actual date of commissioning of the fluoridation plant following design and construction of the plant,” Mr Green said.
Six prominent health professionals, including South West Healthcare chief John Krygger, had thrown their support behind the proposal.
Mr Krygger said the hospital ran a public dental clinic and the team strongly supported fluoride.
“It is an amazing fact that dental health in places with fluoride is far superior than places without it. I think future generations will think this was a good thing for Warrnambool,” he said.
The newly-formed Warrnambool Fluoride Action Group criticised the lack of public consultation.
A spokesman for Health Minister Bronwyn Pike said funds for the equipment would be available after Wannon Water assessed what was required and submitted the treatment plant plans to DHS for work to begin.
Member for South West Coast Dr Denis Napthine welcomed the move saying it was a long time coming.