Invercargill City councillors appear to be hesitant about making a decision on whether to continue fluoridating the city’s water supply, with one suggesting they leave it to the public to decide.
The council received about 400 submissions to its draft annual plan this year, of which about 300 were about fluoridation.
The vast majority of those submissions were against adding fluoride into Invercargill’s water supply.
During the hearing, Cr Ian Pottinger told a submitter that other councils in New Zealand had been taking fluoride out of their water.
He suggested the city council had two options open to it; either make the decision itself or hold a public referendum and let the people decide.
Yesterday, Cr Pottinger said he thought the council should wait until the end of May before making any firm decisions about continuing to fluoridate Invercargill’s water supply.
Councillors are tonight holding a workshop to discuss submissions received in the draft annual plan and water fluoridation will be a hot topic.
Cr Pottinger said he hoped some direction would come from the workshop and a course of action would be decided on.
He believed the council should wait for decisions being made in other parts of the country around fluoridation.
The Hamilton City Council is currently holding a tribunal over water fluoridation and the South Taranaki District Council’s decision to fluoridate water supplies is subject to a judicial review.
Fluoride Action Network New Zealand national co-ordinator Mary Byrne said 23 of New Zealand’s 67 councils added fluoride to their water supplies.
Since 2006, six areas in New Zealand had opted to stop adding fluoride to water supplies after residents called for water fluoridation to end, she said.
Ms Byrne said Central Hawke’s Bay stopped water fluoridation last year, New Plymouth and Taumarunui about a year before that, Kaitaia and Kaikohe two years ago, and Ashburton stopped adding fluoride to the water in 2006.
Tauranga and Timaru stopped fluoridating their water much earlier, with Tauranga ending fluoridation about 1986, she said.
Ms Byrne said there were a lot of areas in New Zealand that had never fluoridated water supplies.
Invercargill has added fluoride to the water supply since 1963.
Councillor Carolyn Dean said the main point she took from submitters who spoke to council last week was they wanted a choice about whether their water supply was fluoridated.
Cr Dean said water fluoridation in Invercargill was an old issue because fluoride had been added to the water supply here for 50 years.
“We really do need to review (water fluoridation),” she said.