Extra time for fluoride debate

Bega Valley residents have been given an extra month to have their say on the possible extension of fluoridation to drinking water supplies across the shire.

The original cut-off date for submissions was Friday, March 10, but Bega Valley Shire Council manager of water and sewage services, Jim Collins, confirmed on Monday that the public consultation period has been extended by four weeks.

"After discussions with [BVSC general manager] Leanne Barnes a new cut-off date for comments has been set at Friday, April 7," Mr Collins said.

There are four water supply systems - Bega-Tathra, Tantawanglo-Kiah, Brogo-Bermagui and Bemboka - serving communities across the shire. 

Fluoride has been added to the Bega-Tathra water supply system since 1963.

Council is in the process of upgrading its water supply infrastructure, including water treatment facilities, within the Tantawanglo-Kiah and Brogo-Bermagui water supply systems. 

As part of the upgrades, council is considering adding fluoride to these water supplies in a bid to prevent and reduce tooth decay.

Bemboka's water supply system is not under consideration at this stage but it may be reassessed in the future if more people move to the area and it becomes cost effective.

Mr Collins said that approximately 100 submissions had been received so far since council's “Have Your Say” on fluoride page went live on its website prior to Christmas.

He encouraged residents interested in making a submission to read the information on council's website, including the latest position paper from the National Health and Medical Research Council, as well as other resource material from the Australian Dental Association, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. 

The final decision on whether or not to extend fluoridation to other of the shire's water supply systems rests with the council.

Council has sent out 1300 letters to property owners whose premises were connected to the shire's water supply informing them of the proposal, as well advertising in the media.

The submission period on the proposal to fluoridate the Bega Valley Shire water supplies has been extended to April 7. To comment, visit www.begavalley.nsw.gov.au and scroll down to the “Have Your Say” section.