Information

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Fluoride in Calgary's water

What is flouride?

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. 

Questions about your drinking water?
For answers to common drinking water questions like water hardness, water taste, odour or appereance, or water pressure, visit Drinking Water in Calgary.

What is Calgary’s fluoridation history?

1957-1971

  • Calgarians vote against adding fluoride to its drinking water four times in 1957, 1961, 1966 and 1971.

1989-1991

  • 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.

1998-1999

  • 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.

2011-Present

  • The City of Calgary discontinued the addition of fluoride to Calgary's drinking water as directed by Council on May 19, 2011.

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. Should Council decide to add fluoride to Calgary’s drinking water a budget request will be prepared. Reintroduction of fluoridation is not expected to increase 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.

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

Where can I learn more?

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:

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