Fluoride grinds to a halt

THE clock is ticking in the countdown to fluoridation, but Bundaberg Regional Councillor Alan Bush says progress has come grinding to a halt over funding uncertainty.

“The bottom line is that nothing is happening,” Cr Bush said.

“The council can't do anything ... we can't move forward until we know whether we have funding.”

The state government announced in 2008 that fluoride would be added to the Bundaberg water supplies by December 2012, and funding was offered for treating river water, which makes up just 30% of the region's water supply.

But Cr Bush said they had still not received an answer whether legislation would be changed to offer funding for bore water treatment — which supplies the remaining 70%.

“It would be absolutely useless to just treat 30%,” Cr Bush said.

He said the council approached the Department of Infrastructure and Planning but had not yet received a response.

“They're telling us we need to do it, but they're not making it easy,” he said.

“I personally believe they would be better off spending the money on improving the water quality.”

Cr Bush said he was also waiting to find out whether Gin Gin would need to have fluoridation.

“At the moment, they have less than 1000 users, which is the cut-off point,” Cr Bush said.

“But by 2012, they are expected to have more than 1000, but they haven't told us one way or another about funding,” he said.

Tom McLaughlin, the council's water and waste water group manager, said they expected to have a response from the Department of Infrastructure and Planning about the legislation this week.

He said the council hoped work would start on putting fluoride in place by early 2011, and was still aiming to have the project complete by the December 2012 deadline.

“We're working towards that,” Mr McLaughlin said.

He said the final cost would not be known until the preliminary design and costings were done, which was scheduled to take place later this year.

“One hundred percent of the capital costs are borne by the state government, and the operational costs are borne by council,” he said.

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