FLUORIDATION FACT SHEET February2012Fluoridation of the Port Macquarie-Hastings Water Supply has commenced following a directive by the NSW Department of Health (DOH) issued in August 2004. Fluoridation of public water supplies in NSW is covered by the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Act 1957, the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Regulation 2007 and the Code of Practice for the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies, April 2011. The Act authorises Council as the water supply authority to add fluoride to a supply under its control subject to Council having first obtained approval from the NSW DOH and then complying with conditions as directed by NSW DOH. Under Section 6A of the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Act 1957, the NSW DOH has the power to direct Council to add fluoride but this direction can only be given if Council has first referred the question of fluoridation to NSW DOH. Why did Council refer the issue of fluoridation to the NSW Department of Health (DOH)? The issue of fluoridation of the Port Macquarie-Hastings District Water Supply was first addressed by the former Port Macquarie Municipal and Hastings Shire Councils prior to amalgamation in 1980. The councils resolved to defer a decision on fluoridation for the newly constituted Hastings Municipal Council. Fluoridation was not considered again until 1985 when a series or reports and discussions on the issue over several years resulted in the decision to hold a referendum on the issue at the September 1991 Local Government election. The referendum question asked: “Are you in favour of having Sodium Fluoride or Sodium Silicofluoride, as appropriate, added to the Hastings District Water Supply to fluoride ion levels recommended by the NSW Department of Health?” The poll results reported to the November 1991 Council meeting were 20,533 votes ‘No’ to fluoridation and 8,198 ‘Yes’. Based on these results, Council resolved not to fluoridate but acknowledged the dental health benefits provided by fluoride and resolved to lobby NSW DOH for an upgrade of dental services in the area. In early 2004, the Mid North Coast Area Health Service convened a meeting of council’s to address the dental decay crisis on the Mid North Coast. A series of fluoridation workshops and meetings were then held including presentations from ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ fluoridation representatives. At this time, Council received letters supporting fluoridation from the NSW Cancer Council, Australian Dental Association and local State Government members. On 31st May 2004, Council resolved to have the question of fluoridation of the Hastings District Water Supply determined by an expert panel/committee appointed by NSW DOH in accordance with Section 6A of the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Act 1957. This approach was on the basis that fluoridation of the water supply was essentially a community health issue that should be managed by NSW DOH. The Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Committee determined after due consideration, that fluoridation should be introduced to the Hastings District Water Supply. Council was subsequently directed by the Director General of NSW Health to fluoridate the Hastings District Water Supply (Government Gazette No. 131 6th August 2004). What is Council’s commitment? In May 2010, Council signed a $1.78 million funding agreement with NSW DOH for the construction of the fluoridation plant. The conditions of this funding agreement would require Council to refund this amount if fluoridation is not commenced and/or discontinued within a period of 15 years. Under Section 6B of the Act, a water supply authority cannot discontinue fluoridation unless directed by NSW DOH. Construction of the Port Macquarie-Hastings fluoridation plant, funded by NSW DOH, was completed in November 2011. Approval to commence fluoridation of the water supply was granted by NSW DOH in January 2012.