Water tap. (Photo by © Can Stock Photo / Elenathewise)Water tap. (Photo by © Can Stock Photo / Elenathewise)

Reintroducing fluoride to drinking supply delayed

It will take longer than first thought to reintroduce fluoride back into the water supply in Windsor, Tecumseh, and LaSalle.

Windsor City Council passed a bylaw to fluoridate the water almost a year ago, and the Town of Tecumseh passed a similar bylaw last April. At the time, the Windsor Utilities Commission estimated it would take 18 months to add fluoride back to the water supply.

Since its removal in 2013, treated water conditions have changed. The commission introduced a corrosion control program in 2016 to reduce lead concentrations at the tap to below 10ug/L.

windsor, water, fluoride, tecumseh, lasalle, removal BlackburnNews.com file photo.

Cities like Toronto and Hamilton have a similar lead reduction program but implemented it to water that was already fluoridated. Windsor will be the first city in North America to attempt to add fluoride to water with phosphoric acid in it, an ingredient used in corrosion control.

In an abundance of caution, the utility decided to conduct a review and hired Jacobs Engineering. It has now recommended further testing.

"To our knowledge, this has not been tried before," said EnWin Vice-President of Water Operations Garry Rossi. "We would rather take a bit longer in the testing phase to ensure the best possible outcome."

The testing should be complete by the middle of 2021. If the results are favourable, fluoride will be added in November 2021.

"We have received a 100 per cent rating on our annual audit by the Ministry [of Environment, Conservation, and Parks] for the past eight years, and we want to ensure we maintain our consistently high standards," added Enwin President and CEO Helga Reidel.

Initially, Jacobs Engineering estimated it would cost $635,000 to reintroducing fluoride. Further testing will add another $125,000 to the price for a total of $740,000. That is still below EnWin's original estimate of $850,000.

Operating and maintaining the system will cost $150,000 a year.

The utility's 2020 budget includes current capital and ongoing operating costs.

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