Wellington’s tap water has been correctly fluoridated this week – but the water supplier isn’t celebrating just yet.
Wellington Water’s new fluoride facilities, set up in shipping containers at Te Marua and Gear Island water treatment plants, are dosing the water supply while the operators check for consistency. The plants are still in a testing phase as they get up and running.
The most recent tests show that both treatment plants have delivered the optimum level of fluoride since Sunday.
Both facilities are on track to deliver consistent fluoride levels with the Ministry of Health target range by the end of the month, Wellington Water said in a statement.
Residents of Wellington, Porirua, and Upper Hutt have not had fluoridated water for over a year after a failure where the facilities were switched off without informing senior management.
“We are making good progress on our work to get the new fluoride facilities at the Te Marua and Gear Island Water Treatment Plants fully operational,” said a spokesperson for the water entity.
For the past week the water from Te Marua, supplying Upper Hutt, Porirua, and Wellington as far south as Karori, has been consistently within the Ministry of Health recommended range for fluoride.
Water at Gear Island – supplying Wellington’s central, southern and eastern suburbs – has been in the target range since Sunday and levels are “slowly ramping up”.
The Gear Island plant is a more “complex operation” because water comes in from multiple sources, the statement said.
The past six years have also shown inconsistent levels of fluoridation throughout the Wellington region, with the optimal range met only 20% of the time at the two most problematic plants. The Waterloo plant, supplying Lower Hutt, only met the optimum range 50% of the time.
Dental experts said the optimal fluoride range provided the “best protection” for oral health, and the failure to meet the target was “appalling”.