Ballina Shire’s water supply will be fluoridated.

Ballina Shire Council held an extraordinary meeting last night to consider a motion to rescind the council’s resolution from the March ordinary meeting to commence the formal steps towards implementation of the fluoridation of the Ballina Shire water supply.

The council was criticised for making the initial decision without community consultation, and three councillors — Keith Johnson, David Wright and Alan Brown — then lodged a rescission motion.

The rescission motion was subsequently defeated 6-4.

Voting in favour of the rescission motion were Crs Keith Johnson, Jeff Johnson, Alan Brown and David Wright.

Voting against the rescission motion were Crs Sue Meehan, Robyn Hordern, Ben Smith, Phillip Silver, Sharon Cadwallader and Peter Moore.

Council staff will now formally commence the implementation steps by writing to the NSW Department of Health.

A spokesperson for the North Coast Area Health Service said defeat of the fluoridation rescission motion at the extraordinary meeting of the Ballina Shire Council was a reflection of the weight and credibility of proven evidence in support of the effectiveness and safety of fluoridated water in reducing dental decay.

Teeth for Health Project Manager, John Irving, said that the six supporting councillors were able to vote in favour of water fluoridation because the evidence is so strong.

“Water fluoridation is not new. It’s been around for some 60 years and in that time has been rigorously examined and re-examined and will continue to be the subject of rigorous research both here and abroad,” he said.

Mr Irving said Ballina will now join Lismore and Richmond Valley shires in implementing this important public health initiative that will lead to lower dental decay and all the health and social problems associated with it.

“We will also be working with council to look at other oral health promotion activities, particularly tooth brushing with fluoride toothpaste in areas not served by the water supply,” Mr Irving said.

Mr Irving said one of the positive aspects of the fluoridation conversation in its recent revival in Ballina was the strong and credible local support from local ADA president Dr Brendan White and a whole range of medical, dental and allied health individuals and groups as well as members of the broader community.

“These are the unsung heroes of public health whose efforts ultimately reward disadvantaged communities with improved oral health. The Area Health Service and NSW Health is most grateful for their involvement and will continue to liaise with them to help improve the dental status of the local population,” he said.

Mr Irving said the water supply currently had about 0.11 parts per million of naturally-occuring fluoride in the water.

He said enough sodium fluoride, in a powdered form, would be added to the water to bring the level up to 1 part per million.