Non-fluoridated water supply points could be on the way for Hamiltonians who don’t want it in their water.
But the possibility hinges on whether Hamilton City Council staff can provide them for a budget of $60,000 for installation and an operating budget of $5000 a year.
A water cooler-type facility is the favoured method, as council staff said a fluoride-free source at the Water Treatment Plant would cost $200,000 to $300,000.
The water cooler type facility the would use de-ionising technology to provide the water at a rate of about one litre a minute, a council report said.
Each one would cost $10,000 to $15,000 to install and about $3000 a year to operate, a staff report said.
And they could be in a council building or anywhere that had the power, water and wastewater facilities required.
About a third of Hamiltonians had voted against fluoride, Cr Philip Yeung said.
“What this motion is about is to give those people a choice,” he said. “If the report comes back from staff saying it’s over that [budget amount] we’re not going to do it.”
But if staff could make it work for under $60,000 it could go ahead.
Cr Rob Pascoe suggested the water cooler option would lead to big queues, an idea that was supported by Cr Garry Mallett.
“People might go out there with tankers and fill them up,” Mallett said. “It’s not practical to go out there every morning with a three-litre water bottle.”
Commercial operators might also want the water and he even suggested an entrepreneur might start doing tanker runs to supply different areas of the city.
But people would be more likely to come with 20L containers, judging by other councils’ experiences, general manager for infrastructure Chris Allen said.
“We haven’t heard anything about commercial operators wanting to provide fluoride-free.”
Councillors raised questions about security of the installation, and Allen said an area covered by CCTV would be preferred.
According to a staff report, providing a source at the Water Treatment Plant would not only be expensive but also difficult.
“[It] would add significant risk to compliance with drinking water standards,” the report said.
When asked why other cities seemed to have provided a fluoride-free supply at a lower cost, Vervoort said Hamilton had a different situation.
For example, Hastings had tapped into an existing bore hole to an artesian well. In Hamilton it would be costly to put down a bore and hard to find a supply that was secure from contaminants.
Cr Margaret Forsyth said any high demand for the water points would simply show council had done the right thing.
“We could be coming back to the table and … relitigating the whole issue.”
But Cr Leo Tooman was against the motion and said it was time to stop bringing the fluoride issue up.
“Let’s make a decision and move on.”
Councillors voted 9-2 for staff to work with the submitters who wanted fluoride-free water access on how they could provide it within budget.
Cr Tooman and Cr Andrew King voted against the motion.
The decision on non-fluoridated water supply points will be ratified on June 30, when staff present the audited 10-year plan to council.