Fluoride looks likely to stay in the Thames water supply but residents may soon have the option not to drink it.
The Thames Community Board has recommended the Thames-Coromandel District Council continue to add fluoride to the water supply.
But the board has requested the council look at an “opt out” clause for residents who want to drink fluoride-free water.
In a statement, the board said: “Individual freedom of choice is important and the board’s preference is to examine options to enable and assist members of the community to ‘opt out’ from receiving fluoride in their water supply.
“[But] On balance, the benefits of providing fluoride in the Thames water supply outweigh the potential risks for the majority of the community, including those most at risk.
“The board has requested that staff research options that enable members of the community to ‘opt out’ from receiving fluoride to provide for greater freedom of choice regarding fluoridation of drinking water, and report back to the board.
“The board also requested that the chief executive, in consultation with the board chair, prepare a letter to the Ministry of Health expressing concern regarding the lack of direction and a stronger policy statement on the matter of water fluoridation.”
The board has given the council a deadline of March 26 to report back on ways to implement the opt out scheme.
Thames-Coromandel District Council Mayor Glenn Leach declined to comment when contacted by the Waikato Times.
“I’ve got no comment for you. But I am picking it [the recommendations] would be endorsed by the council.”
The medical officer of health for the Waikato District Health Board, Dr Felicity Dumble, said she was “delighted” with the decision.
“This is very encouraging,” she said.
“I now hope the Hamilton City Council follows in their footsteps.”
The city council will host a tribunal on the subject in May.
Last week, the Times reported that some of the members of that tribunal were keeping an open mind about the issue, while others like Deputy Mayor Gordon Chesterman thought it was a decision that should be made by the Ministry of Health.