BYRON Shire Council may be forced to fluoridate its water if legislation introduced to parliament yesterday by the NSW Opposition gains bipartisan support - a move that Rous Water estimates would save NSW taxpayers $1.4 million, and local ratepayers $150,000 a year.
Introduced by Opposition Health spokesman Dr Andrew McDonald, the new bill would empower the NSW Health Minister to order water authorities to fluoridate their public water supplies.
Byron Shire Council is now the last Rous Water member council not to fluoridate, so the NSW Government must fund $2.7 million to build several small dosing plants to deliver fluoride elsewhere without contaminating Byron's supply.
But Rous Water general manager Kyme Lavelle said if fluoridation of Byron's water was mandatory, building dosing facilities at the existing treatment plants at Rocky Creek and Emigrant Creek dams would cost $1.3 million (versus $2.7 million), and halve the annual maintenance cost.
"We would be carrying out the necessary fluoridation at a much lesser cost and within a much quicker timeframe," he said.
Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson said it was "no surprise" the state had stepped in.
"It's disappointing that those who have reservations to fluoride have been labelled some sort of extremist hysterical fringe," he said.
"I think they are as informed; they're just not supported by large companies whose interest it is to dump their fluoride in our water system."
Byron Shire Council is planning to hold a forum to debate the pros and cons of fluoridation.
LISMORE mayor Jenny Dowell has apologised to NSW Chief Medical Officer Kerry Chant after she was harassed outside Lismore council chambers on Tuesday night.
Dr Chant had joined local GP Sue Page and pediatrician Chris Ingall to speak about the health benefits of fluoridation prior to a controversial vote by the council to fluoridate its water.
Following the meeting she was reportedly threatened by an anti-fluoride campaigner - a man who asked if she knew of "sarin gas".
Cr Dowell said she had thanked Dr Chant for coming to the meeting and apologised on behalf of the council and the community.
"This behaviour should not reflect on other people with alternative views on fluoride," she said.
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