Fluoride in Calgary's water
What is fluoride?
Fluorides are chemical compounds naturally found in air, water, soil and almost all foods. Fluorides are commonly released into the environment by erosion resulting in natural concentrations in surface and ground waters.
Does fluoride occur naturally in our drinking water?
Fluoride naturally occurs in the Bow and Elbow Rivers, in concentrations varying throughout the year, between 0.1 and 0.4 mg/L.
What are Health Canada’s guidelines regarding fluoride?
Health Canada’s Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality continue to recommend optimal fluoride dosing to be 0.7 mg/L and has set a maximum allowable concentration of 1.5 mg/L.
What is Calgary’s fluoridation history?
- Calgarians vote against adding fluoride to its drinking water four times in 1957, 1961, 1966 and 1971.
- In a 1989 plebiscite, Calgarians voted in favour of adding fluoride to the city's drinking water. By 1991, fluoride was being added to Calgary's drinking water at a target of 1.0 mg/L.
- In 1998, The City and Alberta Health Services reviewed water fluoridation as a public policy, and a panel of five experts recommended a reduction in the level of fluoride to 0.7 mg/L. This change was adopted in 1999 following a second plebiscite where Calgarians again voted in favour of fluoridation by 55 per cent.
- The City of Calgary discontinued the addition of fluoride to Calgary's drinking water as directed by Council on May 19, 2011.
- As part of the 2021 General Election, 62 per cent of electors voted in favour of reintroducing fluoridation of the municipal water supply.
- On November 15, 2021, Council directed Administration to implement water fluoridation of the drinking water system.
What would the cost of adding fluoride to Calgary’s water be?
Estimated costs to reintroduce fluoridation:
- Capital costs for infrastructure at the two water treatment plants - $10.1 million
- Annual operating costs - $864,000 per year
- Annual maintenance costs - $100,000 to $200,000 per year
- Approximately $30.1 million over a 20-year life span
Can these costs be absorbed in the current Water Utility budget?
Current operating and capital budgets do not include the costs associated with reintroducing fluoridation, although reintroduction of fluoridation is not expected to increase water rates. Final costs will be determined as part of the design process and will be provided in The City’s annual water rates.
Why can’t the infrastructure from 2011 be used?
Existing infrastructure, which had reached the end of its life cycle in 2011, was decommissioned and removed following the Council decision to stop fluoridation.
How long will it take to implement fluoridation?
The current timeline is 18-24 months once a decision to reinstate fluoride has been made.
What would The City use to fluoridate the drinking water?
The compound which would be used to fluoridate Calgary’s water would be the same as the compound used prior to 2011. This compound is currently used by approximately 75 per cent of the utilities in North America that fluoridate their water.
At what point in the water treatment process is fluoride added?
Fluoride would likely be added to drinking water during the disinfection process, (Step 3 below). More information on The City’s water treatment process is available at https://www.calgary.ca/uep/water/water-and-wastewater-systems/water-treatment/water-treatment-tour/water-treatment-tour.html.
Which municipalities in Alberta add fluoride to their drinking water? Which do not?
Do: Lethbridge, Red Deer and Edmonton
Do not: Banff, Canmore, Medicine Hat, Okotoks (stopped in 2012), Cochrane, High River
What about our Regional Water customers?
The City of Calgary provides drinking water to The City of Chestermere, The City of Airdrie, The Town of Strathmore and portions of Foothills County, Rocky View County and Tsuut’ina Nation. Each municipality enters into a Master Servicing Agreement that governs the provision of the water to the municipal boundary. The Master Servicing Agreement places responsibility for water quality with The City of Calgary and its Council.
Where can I learn more about fluoride?
The City of Calgary is committed to ensuring drinking water is of high quality, safe to drink, reliable and available for Calgarians. Further public health information on fluoride can be found on the following links: