It’s been revealed residents of the Port Macquarie-Hastings region have not had fluoride added to their drinking water in more than 18 months, leading to a call from the NSW Health Minister to resume fluoridation.
- A letter from the NSW Health Minister reveals the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council stopped fluoridating local water supplies in 2019
- Port Macquarie MP says residents should be concerned council has not been adding fluoride and that the community has not been advised
- Councillors will be asked this week to move a poll on fluoridation to the date of the postponed local government elections and change the wording of the question
Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams only became aware of fluoride not being added after raising concerns about the wording of a controversial poll on fluoridation which the local council plans to hold at the same time as the local government elections.
“From that I received a copy of the letter, which obviously raised the issue about the fact that there in fact hadn’t been fluoride added to the water in Port Macquarie since 2019 and for some of that time not in Wauchope neither.”
“I think that in many ways it’s disappointing that the community haven’t been made aware that in fact the fluoride hadn’t been added to their water over the last 18 months.”
“I understand there were some reasons initially why that hadn’t happened because of the low levels of the river and the ongoing drought that we’ve had but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t provide that information to the community.”
Concerns raised about the fluoridation poll raised by Ms Williams prompted a letter from the minister to the local mayor.
“I share Ms Williams’ concerns that the community of Port Macquarie have not been made aware that fluoride has in fact not been added to the public water supply for over 18 months despite a community poll question which infers that fluoride is currently being added.”
Minister for Health and Medical Research Brad Hazzard has been advised that council temporarily ceased fluoridation of the Hastings District and Wauchope water supplies in November 2019 due to a lack of flow in the Hastings River.
He has also been advised that following heavy rains in early 2020 council was able to start taking water from the Hastings River and return the fluoridation systems to operation in March 2020.
“However, while council resumed fluoridation of the Wauchope drinking water supply in April this year, it has not recommenced fluoridation of the Hastings District Water Supply despite a recommendation to do so by the Public Health Unit.”
‘Publicly available on our website’
Mark Brisley, a dentist in general practice in Port Macquarie, agreed most people in the community would be unaware.
Dr Brisley said studies show over many years that areas that have fluoride in their water supply have less tooth decay.
“Not having the right amount of fluoride in the water supply does impact directly upon people’s dental health – so it does directly result in more decay especially in children.
In a statement, Council’s Infrastructure Director Dan Bylsma said fluoride levels and their fluctuations have been publicly available on council’s website since the commencement of fluoridation in 2012.
Mr Bylsma said all regulatory reporting regarding fluoridation is made to NSW Health regarding water supplies.
“These reports are also available to the community on our website.
“We have been working with NSW Health for several months on plans to get the level of fluoride up to its required concentration in our bulk supply.”
*Original article online at https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-08-03/fluoride-in-port-macquarie/100342354