Fluoridation vote deferred as opponents make fresh plea

Council has chosen to defer the vote on whether to fluoridate its water supplies after hearing passionate presentations supported by community members in the gallery at the council meeting Wednesday.

All presentations referenced the possibility of council referring the decision to NSW Health with speakers reminding council that it should be councillors’ own decision.

It was a point not lost on councillor Russell Fitzpatrick who said he felt no obligation to transfer the matter to NSW Health.

“I totally agree it’s a decision of this council. No way should there be an abrogation of our authority on this matter,” Cr Fitzpatrick said to applause from the floor.

Director transport and utilities Terry Dodd mentioned the “voluminous” nature of material presented.

“Given the number of comments it would be unreasonable to try and digest these today,” Mr Dodds said and asked for time to review them before the matter came back to council.

There are four water supply systems in the Bega Valley Shire, Tantawanglo-Kiah, Brogo-Bermagui, Bemboka and Bega-Tathra. Fluoride has been added to the Bega-Tathra water supply system since 1963 and council has looked at adding fluoride to the Tantawanglo-Kiah and Brogo-Bermagui water supplies.

The fluoridation question has been the source of much concern by the community and there has been a concerted effort by anti-fluoride campaigners during the public submission period. Council received a total of 332 valid submissions and of these 86 per cent were against fluoridation. This represents about one per cent of the 29,000 people, to whom council supplies water.

The 14 per cent that supported fluoridation mostly cited dental health benefits. Submissions against fluoridation cited a number of reasons including fluoride being toxic, being against mass medication, being against forced medication, not believing that fluoride reduces tooth decay and not wanting chemicals added to drinking water.