Windsor needs Tecumseh's or LaSalle's yes vote before fluoride comes back

It could be more than a year before fluoride makes it back into Windsor's water supply.

Two out of three municipalities have to support adding fluoride for water to change

Windsor city council voted in favour of re-fluoridation of the water supply Monday night. (iStock)

It could be more than a year before fluoride makes it back into Windsor's water supply.

On Monday night, city council voted 8-3 in favour of putting fluoride into water again after a five-year moratorium.

Gary Rossi, vice president of water operations for Enwin Utilities said the next step is for city council to pass a bylaw ordering Enwin to put fluoride back in the water.

Then, they need funding — which is about $850,000 to put in the equipment and $105,000 each year after that to purchase fluoride, according to the report to council. There's also an anticipated 2 to 8 per cent inflationary increase for the annual purchase.

"First step is funding and parallel with that, we will also have to do some treatability studies in addition to consulting with the Ministry of Environment," said Rossi. 

According to Rossi, it's a 12 to 18-or-more month timeline to implement — six months just to get the funding and the pilot plant ready to go. 

"It's to ensure there are no ill effects on the treatability of the water and that it's safe for our residents to consume," said Rossi, adding that a small-scale study will have to be conducted. 

"We would then monitor and simulate and dose at the required amount and see how it affects our treated water."

The equipment used previously was mostly repurposed when fluoride was removed in 2013 and no longer available for reuse.

Rossi said Tecumseh and LaSalle would both have a voice in the decision, because Windsor supplies water to both municipalities. 

The mayors of those municipalities are split on the decision, with Tecumseh mayor for and LaSalle against.

"I think the decision that was made last night took some courage," said Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara. 

"I personally support the decision. I think it's important to bring at least the right science to the table. My recommendation to my council would be to support the decision of Windsor city council."

LaSalle's Mayor Marc Bondy was not as quick to agree with the decision.

"We'll get reports, we'll get delegations coming for and against and council members will vote as they wish," said Bondy.

"We have the pros and the cons. Fifty per cent don't want fluorinated water, so what are we going to do?"

McNamara said if two of the three municipalities say yes, then it's an automatic decision. However, he said "at the end of the day, Windsor has the biggest say."

He said it'll become an issue of supply — that they would just have to live with the results.

"It's pretty difficult to start building water plants," said McNamara. "Right now, our supply is the City of Windsor."

He said, however, that "Windsor has the biggest say," which Rossi was not able to confirm.

The matter will come to both councils in the new year.