A group of Hastings residents opposed to fluoridation have taken to tapping directly into the city’s bore supplies to stockpile untreated water.
Hastings District Council has called the practice unauthorised and warned those who do it may be unwittingly filling up on fluoridated water.
But in a bid to appease residents who want access to fluoride-free water, the council will today discuss spending $28,000 to make untreated drinking water available through two public “filling stations”.
At a referendum last October, 63 per cent of voters elected to keep fluoride in the Hastings district’s urban water supply, including Havelock North and Flaxmere.
In a report prepared for today’s meeting of the council’s works and services committee, water services manager Brett Chapman said the result of the referendum “had not been well received” by some opponents of fluoridation.
The council was aware that “on a regular basis, members of the public have been filling containers from sample taps located at a number of our bore supplies, assuming that this water does not contain fluoride,” Mr Chapman’s report said.
The bore sample taps were used by council staff to test the water and were not intended for public access, the report said.
The water from the sample taps could contain fluoride and the council had recently put up signs making that clear.
Angela Hair, of the Fluoride Free Hastings group, said she was aware of people visiting the bore sites to fill up containers for their week’s supply of water.
“Generally on a Saturday morning around 10 o’clock there is a group of people that go down there, turn the tap on and get their water,” she said.
Four independent sample tests had been done on the water taken from the bores and all had indicated only low background levels of fluoride, “so we were pretty confident it was not fluoridated,” she said.
Mr Chapman’s report said the unauthorised taking of water from the bore taps was “at a relatively low level but will continue until a more practical solution is found or the ability to obtain water from the bores is removed”.
To solve the problem, staff are proposing spending about $28,000 on public unfluoridated water “filling stations” at two bore sites: Eastbourne Street and Frimley Park.
Ms Hair said the filling stations were a good solution.
“Given where we’re at right now it’s the best we can do. We’re happy that people will have, hopefully, an option to be able to get fluoride-free water,” she said.
“We’d love to see it in Flaxmere as well but at the moment two options will be better than no options.”