By Darren Coyne
Rous Water has begun fluoridating the region’s water supply despite warnings that protest action will continue.
Rous Water general manager Kyme Lavelle yesterday confirmed that the Clunes dosing plant had been switched on, and the Echonetdaily later learnt that the Corndale plant was also operational.
Plants at Knockrow and Dorroughby are also due to be switched on this week.
The Clunes plant services the village of Clunes while the Corndale plant provides fluoride to the Lismore urban area, the lower river areas to Evans Head, Broadwater, Alstonville, Wollongbar and all the Rous Water town water customers between Corndale and those areas.
The fluoridation of the water supply has begun despite a promise from Rous Water that ‘once the intended dates for activating the plants is decided Rous Water will ensure it is well covered in local media’.
Mr Lavelle did issue a short press release on 1 September saying that final approval had been granted from the Department of Health to commence fluoridation of its water supply, excluding Byron Bay.
Mr Lavelle said fluoridation would commence in the ‘coming week with the four dosing plants being progressively switched on’.
The move to fluoridate has taken place amid attempts by Greens councillors Jeff Johnson of Ballina and Vanessa Ekins of Lismore to have community polls on the issue.
Notices of motions from those councillors were both defeated at recent council meetings, but Cr Ekins, a delegate to Rous Water, is not giving up.
She remains hopeful that fellow Rous delegates will support a motion at the authority’s next meeting on 16 September to ‘suspend the addition of fluoride to the regional water supply until the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has completed the review into reducing fluoride concentrations from 1mg/l to 0.7mg/l..’
On its website, Rous Water says the fluoride would be added at a rate of 1mg per litre to the water supply.
Cr Ekins motion is unlikely to be supported by Rous Water chair Sue Meehan, who described the move in a leaked email as ‘BS’.
Cr Meehan did not respond to a call from Echonetdaily, although Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell said the Ballina councillor was ‘mortified’ that the email had been made public.
Cr Ekins told Echonetdaily today that she would proceed with her motion, despite an expectation that general manager Kyme Lavelle maintained it was ‘unlawful’.
‘I don’t believe that is the case and I asked for a legal opinion on that and you saw the response from the chair (Cr Meehan).
‘My motion is not that we don’t add it, it’s calling for the suspension of fluoridation until the levels are determined,’ she said.
Cr Ekins said if the general manager ruled her motion unlawful, she would be lodging a formal complaint against his actions and calling for a full explanation.
She said it was disappointing that delegates to Rous Water had not been informed that the dosing plants were being switched on, and had instead learned they were now operational via the media.
The next Rous Water meeting will be held at 1.30pm in Lismore on 16 September. Anti-fluoride protestors have vowed to attend.