Windsor delays adding fluoride back to drinking water by one year

Garry Rossi, vice-president of water operations with Enwin said the delay is a result of a recommendation made in a report presented to the Windsor Utilities Commission.

Extra tests required to determine how fluoride will interact with corrosion control chemicals already in place

The reintroduction of fluoride into the City of Windsor's water supply will be delayed by another year. (CBC)

Additional water quality testing means fluoride won't be reintroduced to Windsor's, Tecumseh's or LaSalle's drinking water systems until at least 2021. 

Garry Rossi, vice-president of water operations with Enwin said the delay is a result of a recommendation made in a report presented to the Windsor Utilities Commission (WUC) on Wednesday. 

"We had a recommendation from our management and our consultant … to conduct a pipe loop assessment just to further ensure that there will be no adverse effect on the drinking water system," Rossi said. 

According to the report presented to WUC, the additional testing is primarily necessary to determine how fluoride will interact with the phosphoric acid already present in the system as a mechanism to prevent lead from leaching into the water supply.

"WUC will be the first known water utility to add fluoride to the drinking supply which already contains phosphoric acid for purposes of lead mitigation," reads an excerpt from the report. "While other utilities have both additives … no other utility (in North American based on research to date) is known to have fluoride added subsequent to the addition of phosphoric acid."

Garry Rossi is the vice-president of water operations for Enwin Utilities. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

Rossi explained that the commission's original timeline would have seen fluoridation of the drinking water system by November 2020, but the recommendation for a 12-month delay now means fluoride will be reintroduced in November 2021 instead. 

"The effects of lead vary seasonally," Rossi said. "So it's very important that we measure these effects throughout a calendar year, rather than for the summer months and then assume everything is fine."

Council voted 8-3 in 2013 to remove fluoride from Windsor's drinking water system, later voting 8-3 in 2018 to reintroduce the compound added to water to prevent tooth decay. 

Before Windsor was able to formally reintroduce fluoride, however, a yes vote from either Tecumseh or LaSalle council was needed.

That yes vote came in April 2019, when Tecumseh council voted in favour of reintroducing fluoride to the water system.

Rossi emphasized that WUC's chief concern is the safety of the municipal drinking water supply. 

Additionally, he said the extra pipe loop test won't exceed the $850,000 already budgeted for reintroducing fluoride to the system.

"Obviously, the pipe loop is an added cost, but it's still containable within original estimates," he said. 



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