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Fluoridation

Water utilities in NSW are required, by law, to add fluoride to water.

The NSW Government Department of Health directed Port Macquarie Hasting Council to add fluoride to the local water supply. Our fluoridation plant was funded by the NSW State government and is located at Rosewood Road reservoir site in Wauchope. Fluoridation of Port Macquarie-Hastings district water supply began in February 2012.

Fluoride is added to the level of 1mg per litre, as required by NSW Health. The graph below shows the level of fluoride in the supply.

Why are fluoride levels lower in Port Macquarie and Camden Haven, and higher in Wauchope

The fluoride level in the water supply to Wauchope meets NSW Health requirements.

Water transferred to Cowarra and Port Macquarie Dams includes fluoride that is added to the level of 1mg per litre, as required by NSW Health. The volume of water in storage at each dam dilutes the fluoride concentration levels to below the required level of 1mg per litre.

In 2019, in consultation with NSW Health, we paused fluoride dosing when the severe drought meant we could not draw water from the Hastings River as normal. Fluoride dosing was removed from the usual control sequence as dam levels dropped in order to maximise available extraction opportunities. The pause on fluoride dosing also coincided with a review of environmental considerations around open water storage dams and the reticulated network.

Since the drought, we have replenished our dam levels, but with fluoride dosing still paused for the bulk supply, the level of fluoride in the dams has continued to dilute. We are working with NSW Health and the NSW Environmental Protection Authority to recommence fluoridation for the Hastings Bulk water supply.

We recommenced fluoride dosing directly to the Wauchope water supply in April 2021. 

NSW Health requires us to report where fluoride levels of 0.9mg/L have been reached and maintained for 3 months.

Because the fluoride levels in our bulk water supply is diluted, we have never reached this reporting target. We provide regular reports on fluoride levels to NSW Health for both water supplies. These levels are also available to the community in the graph above.

Why do we add fluoride to the water?  

We are required to add fluoride in accordance with Section 6 of the Fluoridation of the Public Water Supplies Act 1957.  

How much fluoride do we add? 

Fluoride is added to our water supply to achieve a concentration of 1mg/litre (1ppm), +/- 5%. The allowable range is 0.95ppm to 1.05ppm. The fluoride agent used has undergone safety analysis and certification. 

NSW Health regulates the addition of fluoride to water supplies through the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Act 1957 and the NSW Code of Practice for Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies 2011.

The communities of Comboyne, Telegraph Point and Long Flat have an independent water supply which is not fluoridated. 

Operating the fluoridation plant

All of our water treatment operators are qualified and approved by NSW Health to operate the fluoridation plant. The plant is attended daily for operational monitoring, water sampling and testing of fluoride content as required by the NSW Fluoridation Code of Practice

Fluoridation and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)

At the Ordinary Council Meeting on 19 June 2019, Council resolved to make the  legal advice3MB pdf(PDF, 3MB) relating to fluoridation available to the public.

On 15 July 2019, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) published a media release relating to regulatory amendments regarding fluoridation of the water supply. The Therapeutic Goods  Amendment (Excluded Goods) Determination579KB pdf(PDF, 579KB) 2019 has added ‘fluoridated reticulated drinking water’ to a list of goods which are specifically excluded from the operation of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (‘TG Act’). The mechanism by which this is done is set out in the  Explanatory Statement520KB pdf(PDF, 520KB).

Following Council's previous legal advice, a further due diligence legal exercise on the effect of the Amendment Determination has been completed, which has formed the view there is no longer a conflict between Council’s obligations under the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Act 1957 and the provisions of the TG Act or the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966.

 

Any questions or concerns you have regarding fluoride are best directed to NSW Health

You can also read the Q&A document by the Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council and their public statement.  

 

This page was last updated on: 14 September 2021