Edmonton

No fluoride in drinking water for many Edmonton residents during system updates

The fluoride interruption is expected to last seven months, until March 2020. During that time, Epcor will be replacing four bulk fluoride storage tanks that are approximately 20 years old

Epcor has stopped adding fluoride while it updates E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant

Epcor has temporarily stopped adding fluoride to water as it upgrades tanks at its E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

Epcor has temporarily stopped adding fluoride to water while it upgrades the E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant. 

The fluoride interruption is expected to last seven months, until March 2020. During that time, Epcor will be replacing four bulk fluoride storage tanks that are approximately 20 years old.

"The reason why it's taking seven months is the work is contained within the existing room," said Audrey Cudrak, Epcor's director of Edmonton water treatment plants. 

"The space is quite tight and so it has to be done in stages."

The interruption affects about 280,000 Edmonton customers who live in the north, west and south sides of the city. Beaumont, Leduc, Morinville, Nisku, Onoway, Spruce Grove, St. Albert, Stony Plain and Sturgeon County are also affected. Full lists of affected neighbourhoods, including those in Edmonton and surrounding communities, are available on Epcor's website.

People who live in central and east Edmonton will continue to receive fluoridated water from the Rossdale Water Treatment Plant.

Cudrak said residents in the affected areas will not notice a difference in the taste or quality of their water during the interruption.

Preventing tooth decay

Fluoride has been added to Edmonton's drinking water since 1966. According to Health Canada, fluoride has been scientifically proven to strengthen enamel, reduce the amount of acid in the mouth and rebuild minerals that strengthen teeth.

Bruce Yaholnitsky, president-elect of Alberta Dental Association and College, said going without fluoridated water for seven months is unlikely to have a significant effect on Edmontonians' dental health.

"The bigger concern would be related to children with developing teeth, because the fluoride does help build those permanent teeth much stronger," he said.

The college is recommending parents talk to dentists or hygienists about fluoride supplements during the interruption.

Alberta Health Services recommends using fluoridated toothpaste and eating healthy, low-sugar foods to prevent cavities.

About the Author

Madeleine Cummings is a digital associate producer who produces stories for CBC Edmonton's website and its afternoon radio show, Radio Active.

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