$50 million price tag for Redlands to opt out of fluoride

Redland City Council could face a $50 million-plus bill to reverse the fluoridation of water supply decision forced on the city by the previous state government.

Mayor Karen Williams said councils had been ‘set up’ by the state government and ratepayers would be forced to foot any bill under new legislation that gave councils the right to decide on fluoride.

“Fluoride is a public health issue and public health is the responsibility of the state government. The government should therefore be making the decision on fluoride and also picking up the tab for that decision rather than dumping the decision and the cost on councils,” Cr Williams said.

“It was the former state government that forced fluoride on councils and it is the current state government that should pick up any cost for councils that choose to opt out.

“Councils don’t put fluoride in the water supply, and we don’t control the supply of bulk water. Our sole role is to deliver water to ratepayers’ premises.”

Redland City Council is yet to decide whether or not to continue with fluoridation of water. Council has received a report from officers and is considering a range of other material from a range of sources to allow councillors to be better informed.

Cr Williams said government legislation which gave councils the power to opt in or out of fluoride was far from straight forward.

“It is not merely a case of a council saying we want or don’t want fluoride in our water – a potentially massive price tag comes with the ability to make the call,” she said.

“A decision to remove fluoride from our water could potentially cost Redland City up to $50 million in capital and recurrent costs.

“There could be an up-front cost to build a new reverse osmosis plant to remove fluoride, a cost to decommission current fluoride plants and ongoing costs to run the plants.

“Under the current legislation ratepayers would be left to foot the bill. This could mean a slug of hundreds of dollars for each ratepayer in the city.

“Redland City Council has done everything in our power to keep rates and our water prices down but this government decision could destroy all that good work.

“We have been set up by the government. They are making it look like we can make the decision but that decision is clouded by the cost factor, the SEQ water grid and our neighbouring councils’ expectations.

“We are still contacting our neighbouring councils to seek their views as their decisions will influence the cost of our decision.

“We need to be properly informed before we make any decision but we do ask the state government to accept t its responsibility for a public health issue.”