As the NSW opposition pushes legislation that would force local councils to fluoridate drinking water, residents here are demanding water that is drinkable in the first place.
Many homes in Narrabri have discoloured water flowing from sink taps.
Some families The Courier has spoken with say they would welcome fluoride, but only if the water quality is improved first.
The mayor of Narrabri Shire, Cr Conrad Bolton, says it’s time we had a debate in the community about adding fluoride to the town water supply.
But Cr Bolton thinks the water needs to get to an acceptable drinking level first.
He made the comments following a move by the NSW opposition to introduce a bill to State Parliament which would force local councils to fluoridate their drinking water.
“From the reports I’ve read, it’s worth a conversation with the community in regards to fluoride,” Cr Bolton told The Courier.
“The stats support the fluoridation of town water supplies, it’s worth council having a look at it, we’re one of the very few councils in NSW which haven’t got it.”
But he said the type of water flowing from household taps would need to improve so that residents were willing to drink the water in the first place.
“We’re on permanent restrictions because we’re at the end of the capacity of the current water infrastructure, hence the applications to Resource for Regions to get our quantity up,” Cr Bolton said.
“And with quantity up, we’d expect quality to come up as well.
“With the addition of fluoride that’s going to create a personal health advantage in regard to dental care.”
Cr Bolton said he had begun the process of engaging council staff to “sound them out” to see if they should “start to engage the process” of looking at water fluoridation.
The Courier has spoken to several residents, who all agree that fluoride should be added to the town water supply, but only after the water gets to an acceptable drinking level.
Lisa Almagro, a mother of three, is one of those residents.
She refuses to let her children drink the town water, opting for a rainwater tank.
But the bathroom uses the town water, which leaves yellow marks around the basin, bathtub and shower tiles.
“It leaves a horrible brown scum around the rims, I make them use bubble bath to try and prevent it,” Mrs Almagro said.
“When we bought the house I put in brand new piping and thought that would fix it, but it didn’t.
“The council should have to subsidise our cleaning fluid.”
Mrs Almagro said the water quality would need to be at an acceptable drinking level before the council considers fluoridation.
“As far as fluoride goes, not many people even drink the water,” she said.
“Get our water drinkable then let’s worry about our teeth.”
In introducing the bill to State Parliament, opposition spokesman on health, Dr Andrew McDonald, said fluoridated water was “one of the most cost-effective health interventions ever used”.
“Every day without fluoride puts a child at risk of preventable dental decay,” he said.
But Cr Bevan O’Regan said it should not be added to our water.
“It’s a poison and it hasn’t been established that it actually does good for the teeth,” Cr O’Regan said.
“I’m 110 per cent against it, why add a poison when fluoride is carcinogenic?
“I think we can have some big debates on this.”