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City of Calgary’s plan to reintroduce fluoride into water system up in cost, delayed


It will now take longer and cost more for the City of Calgary to reinstate water fluoridation at the city’s two water treatment plants.

A recent memo from city administration shows the upfront cost of fluoridation ballooned to $28.1 million from $10.1 million.

The city says that new number is based on a fully-designed and tendered project, which includes construction of a new building at the Bearspaw Aayer Treatment Plant, which wasn’t originally planned for.

It also takes into account inflationary impacts and supply chain challenges.

Operating and maintenance costs are pegged at upwards of a million dollars annually.

The expected completion date is also now a few months behind.

The project, which was introduced in 2021, was supposed to be done by next June, but it now looks like September 2024 is the more likely completion date.

Fluoride was in Calgary’s drinking water from 1991 to 2011. Since then, Calgarians have voted in multiple plebiscites on fluoridation, most recently in 2021.

Juliet Guichon, president of Calgarians for Kids’ Health, says the lack of water fluoridation impacts everyone, especially children of low socioeconomic status.

The group is calling on the city to make this project an urgent matter of public health.

“If you help children have good oral health, what doesn’t happen is they don’t have trouble sleeping, eating, playing, concentrating, attending school — all those things delay their development. So, the prevention of dental decay is important not just for the child's teeth, but also their overall health,” Guichon said.

In turn, she says the project will help save additional costs to the healthcare system.

“Fluoridation reduces dental decay by approximately 25 per cent, and their accompanying avoided medical costs, so these are costs incurred by the province when people go to an emergency department for an infection, it has to be treated by intravenous antibiotics and sometimes by actual admission, which is even more expensive,” Guichon said.

City administration is now working on awarding the construction contract.

It is covering the additional costs through the current 2023 to 2026 service plans and budgets. Top Stories

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