A Ballina shire councillor is pushing for a community poll to determine whether residents want their water supply fluoridated.
Cr Jeff Johnson, who is running as an independent candidate in the March state election for the seat of Ballina, has lodged a notice of motion that will be dealt with at this week’s council meeting.
Rous Water is currently building four plants that will provide fluoridated water to a majority of residents in the region.
It is anticipated that the construction will be completed around Easter 2015.
Ballina is constructing a fluoride plant at Marom Creek water treatment plant to supply fluoridated water to Wardell.
Fluoridated water will also be supplied to most town water customers in the Ballina, Lismore and Richmond Valley Council areas.
But Cr Johnson believes it’s not too late to reverse the decision.
He wants the council to hold a poll at the next local government election in September 2016.
‘While I’m personally against the fluoridation of Ballina’s water supply for a number of reasons I feel that for controversial issues such as this, it is important that the residents have an opportunity to decide whether they want fluoride to be added to their drinking water,’ Cr Johnson said.
Prior to the poll, Cr Johnson wants public meetings in Ballina, Lennox Head and Alstonville to give residents the opportunity to hear all relevant information before casting a vote.
‘If the outcome of the poll is that the majority of residents don’t want their water fluoridated, then the next council should take all necessary actions to remove it from the water supply,’ Cr Johnson said.
‘While current state government policy makes it difficult to reverse this decision, a future state government or policy shouldn’t be ruled out.
‘If there is a clear majority of residents who don’t want fluoride, then the council and state government should respect that position.
He said fluoridating the water supply would cost Ballina shire residents around $100,000 a year.
‘This money would be much better spent on an educational program in conjunction with local schools and/or the provision of fluoride tablets.’
Cr Johnson said Lismore’s poll on coal seam gas at the last council election had cost around $14000.
It’s not the first time that Ballina shire council has dealt with the issue.
In August last year, Cr Keith Williams attempted to reverse the council’s support for fluoride with notice of motion.
At the time, Cr Williams said his main beef was fluoridation of the water supply went against the notion of ‘informed consent’, arguing, with reference to a Harvard University study, that there must be some risks associated with fluoride.
His motion was defeated 8-2, with only Cr Jeff Johnson the only other councilor to support him.
At the time, Ballina’s mayor David Wright voted against his personal opinion to reconfirm that fluoridation of the shire’s water supply would go ahead as planned.
The Ballina council will meet on Thursday from 9am.