A report to city council Tuesday helped provide some clarity regarding fluoridation of city drinking water. The City of Lethbridge spends about $90,000 a year on fluoridation, and based on recent decisions by councils in other Alberta communities, council here could end the practice without taking the issue to a plebiscite, according to the report, prepared by the City of Lethbridge water and wastewater department.
Ald. Bridget Mearns requested the report two weeks ago so council members could have all the facts next Monday when they meet as Community Issues Committee to take an indepth look at fluoridation.
Fluoridation was introduced in Lethbridge in 1974 after it was passed in a plebiscite by a slim margin with 50.26 per cent of voters in favour and 46.78 per cent opposed.
Earlier this month, Calgary city council voted to end fluoridation. Councils in Drayton Valley and Bow Island did the same in 2008 and 2009, respectively, according to the report.
Under provincial regulations, municipalities aren’t required to add fluoride to drinking water, but they are required to add chemicals such as chlorine and ammonium hydroxide in weak concentrations to disinfect the water. Polyaluminum chloride and organic polyelectrolyte must also be added for the removal of particles from water.
If Lethbridge council decides to discontinue fluoridation, the city would first need formal approval from Alberta Environment and would have to notify the communities of Coaldale and Picture Butte which purchase their water from the city.