Kelch sparks new fluoride Sarnia debate

- Heather Wright

– Heather Wright photo

The abscess  known as the fluoridation debate is back in Sarnia.

The Lambton Area Water Supply System needs a new fluoridation system this year. It’s expected to cost about $300,000. But the LAWSS board wants to make sure municipalities still want to continue putting fluoride in the water.

Sarnia City Councilor Mike Kelch shocked councilors Monday by making a motion to “ask LAWSS to cease fluoridation in the Sarnia water system” adding people are more conscious of the chemicals they put in their body now than even two years ago. “They don’t have a choice in this case,” he says. “They deserve the right to decide what they take and when they are taking it,” says Kelch.

“This is not really about whether fluoride is good or bad for you in my mind; it’s a simple matter of what’s our job as providers of water; to me, I see it as providing the purest, quality product with the least amount of chemical contamination that we can put in there to make it safe to drink – end of story.

“Why do we need to push it? We’re fluoride pushers,” says Kelch adding the argument that it helps protect teeth isn’t good enough. “What about vitamin D? I hear that’s good for you! Let’s throw some of that in. How about magnesium? That’s supposed to keep your heart rate good; let’s pipe in some of that.”

Kelch says since the unit – worth about $300,000 according to LAWSS – needs to be replaced its time to rethink the city’s position. “(The fluoridation unit) adds a level of complexity to the water treatment plant that doesn’t need to be there, this is a perfect opportunity.”

Kelch acknowledges he’s started  a divisive debate. “I’ve unleashed the Thunderdome, here,” says Kelch.

“This is torture,” says Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley who says he receives regular emails from people across the province about the issue even though it has been a couple of years since the issue was debated in Sarnia-Lambton. Two years ago, the six municipalities voted on issue. Warwick, St. Clair and Lambton Shores all wanted the fluoride removed, but because of bad weather, the board voted in favour of continuing the process.

Councilors have agreed to discuss the issue again and Bradley believes the public has to be involved. “I don’t think you can make a decision on such a wide reaching consequence without a public meeting.”

– Heather Wright