Council plans to fluoridate water at new treatment plants

MOVING AHEAD: From left to right:  Cr Andrew Willcox, mayor Jennifer Whitney, Cr John Collins, Project Manager Abigroup John Palmer, Cr Peter Ramage, Site Superintendant Alan Priest and WRC Director of Engineering Myles Fairbairn at a site inspection of the Bowen Water Treatment Plant in November last year.
MOVING AHEAD: From left to right: Cr Andrew Willcox, mayor Jennifer Whitney, Cr John Collins, Project Manager Abigroup John Palmer, Cr Peter Ramage, Site Superintendant Alan Priest and WRC Director of Engineering Myles Fairbairn at a site inspection of the Bowen Water Treatment Plant in November last year.

UNDER the terms of the former Labor Government's 2008 water fluoridation act, councils in Queensland were given a time plan, with dates by which to fluoridate their water supply.

Whitsunday Regional Council was scheduled to come on line in December 2011, but this was delayed.

Meanwhile, in March 2012 a change of government took place and on November 29, the new LNP Government overturned the act, giving individual councils that had not already fluoridated their water supply, the choice about whether they would go ahead or not.

Whitsunday mayor Jennifer Whitney said though Council had now been given the power to decide, it may be too late to turn back from the original plan from an infrastructure point of view.

"The position that we find ourselves in, is we've done [built] the two water treatment plants at Bowen and Proserpine," Cr Whitney said.

Cr Whitney said these treatment plants were designed during the time that fluoridation was expected to be mandatory and while the buildings were not yet operational, their construction was well underway. She said government funding had been provided for fluoridation facilities "and the question is, are we [going to be] required to refund those millions of dollars".

"That's going to be the issue for us," she said.

"If we go out to the public and the public says 'we don't want fluoridation', it's tricky."

Cr Whitney said Council had approached the Queensland Government about this issue, but was yet to receive a response.

"It's a question the department has not answered," she said.

Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan is on leave and said he was unable to comment on the issue at this time.



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