Hinchinbrook Shire Council Sewerage Treatment Plant Operator Paul Bourne loading the 5kg fluoride systems.
Hinchinbrook Shire Council Sewerage Treatment Plant Operator Paul Bourne loading the 5kg fluoride systems.

How councils have flushed $4m down the drain

COUNCILS have poured $4 million of taxpayers' money down the drain by building costly water-fluoridation plants they refuse to use.

And one key Queensland water supplier has sensationally suggested that fluoride be put into soft drink instead.

Eight councils have mothballed fluoride-dosing equipment that cost taxpayers $4 million to install.

Mount Isa City Council spent $790,752 on infrastructure to put fluoride in the water - before deciding not to use it.

Mount Isa Water Board chief executive Stephen Farrelly yesterday said it was "inefficient" to put fluoride in water used for gardens.

"For Mount Isa, fluoridating water is an extremely inefficient delivery method, given the vast majority of the water is applied to gardens," he said.

"Perhaps Coca-Cola could add fluoride instead."

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) demanded the State Government force councils to use the equipment.

It warned 72 per cent of Queenslanders drank fluoridated water, compared to more than 90 per cent in other states.

"We're seeing people in aged care facilities who have such terrible tooth decay their teeth are being removed," ADA Queensland president Dr Adrian Frick said. "I think 99.9 per cent of councillors and mayors are not qualified to comment, let alone control the fluoridation process."

Queensland Health data reveals that only 38 per cent of kids on the Gold Coast, which fluoridates water, have tooth decay, compared to 43 per cent of children in the fluoride-free cities of Cairns and Mackay.

Dentists have slammed 18 Queensland councils that took fluoride out of the water when the Newman LNP government gave them the choice in 2012.

The Sunday Mail can reveal that eight of those councils wasted $4 million in taxpayer grants given to them when the Bligh Labor government made fluoride mandatory in 2008.

State Health Minister Steven Miles is refusing to "force the hand of councils''.

"I want to see the few councils not using fluoride add it to their water supplies voluntarily," he said.


1. Whitsunday Regional $1.3 million

2. Mount Isa Water Board (decision not to fluoridate made by Mount Isa City Council) $790,752

3. Tablelands Regional $616,038

4. Mareeba Shire $551,328

5. Cassowary Coast $426,801

6. Charters Towers $90,985

7. Cairns City $85,380

8. Cloncurry Shire $73,638

Source: Queensland Health. Cairns City, Charters Towers and Cloncurry councils did not complete installation of infrastructure.