The door might have opened for the Ashburton District Council to relook at fluoridating Ashburton’s water supply but district councilors this week made it very clear that’s a discussion they’ll be steering well clear of.
The Ministry of Health is regularly updating local authorities on a new bill that allows district health boards to direct water suppliers to fluoridate their drinking water supplies.
The Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Bill is currently awaiting its second reading and it may pass before the end of the year.
Councils may have the option then of engaging with their health board if they are considering fluoridation to secure a share of a $30 million fund that would be set aside over 10 years to build the infrastructure required.
Under the terms of the bill, health boards could direct local authorities to fluoridate their water supplies and funds would be available for capital works needed to do this but not for ongoing maintenance costs.
When fluoridation was mentioned at Thursday’s service delivery meeting, councilors had no appetite to discuss the issue, saying they were happy to leave the debate at Canterbury District Health Board level.
The council withdrew fluoride from Ashburton’s water supply in 2002 after a referendum. Attempts were made to have it reintroduced in 2008 but these were unsuccessful.
A similar vote in Methven in 2008 saw fluoride remain in the village supply.