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Lord Mayor says yes to fluoride and saves $150 million

18 December, 2012

Lord Mayor says yes to fluoride and saves $150 million

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk today announced Brisbane residents would continue to receive fluoride in their drinking water in a move that saves ratepayers about $350 per household in costs to set up a non-fluoride water distribution network.

Cr Quirk said he personally supported fluoride in drinking water and had heeded the advice of health authorities in making the decision.

His decision was reinforced by the revelation that the cost to Brisbane ratepayers to opt out of drinking water fluoridation and set up its own water distribution network was a preliminary estimate of at least $150 million – almost $350 per rateable property.

The State Government passed legislation in late November enabling councils to decide if they want fluoride in their communities' drinking water, after the former Bligh Government insisted it occur in bigger communities in 2008.

The legislation however states that any Council opting out is faced with the full cost of that decision.

“I am acting on the advice of health experts such as the Australian Medical Association, World Health Organisation and the Australian Dental Association that fluoride in drinking water supplies is beneficial,” Cr Quirk said.

“Almost two-thirds of the public support fluoridation – opinion polls in 2005 had 58 per cent of Queenslanders were in favour and just 25 per cent opposed. By 2007, support had grown to 62 per cent.”

Cr Quirk said Brisbane was located in the heart of the SEQ Water Grid and received drinking water from seven water treatment plants from the Gold Coast to the Sunshine Coast.

“The operation of the SEQ Water Grid is complex with drinking water potentially flowing from, through and to the Brisbane area from other local governments,” he said.

“Under the State Government’s new legislation each Council is required to make their own decision on whether they will continue to add fluoride to water.

“If other SEQ councils opted to continue with fluoridated drinking water, preliminary estimates are it could cost Brisbane ratepayers more than $150 million to opt out and set up our own water distribution infrastructure for non-fluoridated water.

“That is the sort of scenario facing any SEQ council that decides to opt out of providing fluoridated water and reinforced my decision to continue providing fluoridated water in Brisbane.”

Cr Quirk also rejected calls for a plebiscite on the issue, arguing the costs would be similar to the
$3 million cost to Brisbane City Council from its recent elections. [Ends] December 18, 2012

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