South-east Queenslanders shouldn’t fear that drinking water will soon include recycled and desalinated water as well as fluoride, Premier Anna Bligh says.
Ms Bligh has launched an advertising campaign ahead of the introduction of fluoridated water, which will be available to 90 per cent of homes in the state’s south-east by the end of December.
She said it was time for the region to catch up with other areas such as Sydney and Melbourne.
“It is not only proven safe, it’s been a proven and effective way to improve the dental health, particularly of children,” Ms Bligh said.
Fluoride will be rolled out to the rest of the state by 2012.
There has been vocal opposition to fluoride, and over recent weeks, growing disapproval of the government’s drought-proofing program, which will see recycled water from three treatment plants pumped into Wivenhoe Dam early next year.
The Australian newspaper on Monday reported the National Health and Medical Research Council had warned the government against recycled water except as a last resort.
But the group’s water quality advisory committee chairman Professor Don Bursill said steps were well advanced to ensure the water’s safety.
“The Queensland government has prepared itself well for this strategy,” he said in a statement.
Ms Bligh said she welcomed debate on the issue, but it must be based on facts.
“Water is one of the largest global challenges of the 21st century,” she said.
“Queensland and Queensland know-how is right at the front of providing new solutions.
“This is something that we can be proud of, not fearful of.”
The only thing that would stop the government using recycled water for drinking would be overflowing dams, Ms Bligh said.
Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg said recycled water went against common sense.
“The LNP’s position is it should be last resort only, and that all water should be recycled and that should be going into agriculture, it should be going to industry, it should be going to power generation, freeing up fresh potable water for people to drink,” Mr Springborg said.
“It’s just too risky long-term to put treated sewage into your fresh water supplies, because if something goes wrong, there’s a breakdown in the system, you’ve got nowhere to go.”