The fluoride-free status of Central Otago drinking water is likely to change — at a cost of more than $1 million.
That figure is based on estimates of a cost of about $255,000 per site supplying water to more than than 500 people but does not include the existing supply to Alexandra and Clyde but rather the replacement — the Lake Dunstan Water Supply — due to be commissioned next year.
A report updating councillors on the Ministry of Health’s implementation for the Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Act 2021 was presented at a full meeting of the Central Otago District Council yesterday.
Council water services manager Ian Evans told councillors there was no fluoridation in any of Central Otago’s water supplies at present but following the Act passing into law last year, the decision to fluoridate a drinking supply had moved from local government to the director-general of health.
Correspondence to councils from the Ministry of Health had signalled drinking water supplies serving more than 500 people would eventually be required to include fluoridation, he said.
It had been indicated the mandating process was likely to get under way by the middle of this year but there was no indication which areas would be targeted first, he said in his report.
In Central Otago, water supplies serving more than 500 people included Alexandra, Clyde, Cromwell, Ranfurly, and Roxburgh.
No allowance had been budgeted in the 2021 long-term plan to include dosing fluoride at any of the council’s water supplies, Mr Evans said.
If a directive was issued by the director-general of health, water suppliers would be required to comply under the Act but there was no set date for compliance as yet.
The Ministry had been advised that if mandated, the logical sequencing would be to include fluoridation as existing treatment plants are upgraded, with the new Lake Dunstan Water treatment plant occurring first, Mr Evans said in his report.
A review to confirm there was sufficient space to include fluoridation within the site layout at the new Lake Dunstan treatment site had begun.
Current estimates indicate a cost of about $255,000 at each of the four water supply sites.
Cr Tracy Paterson said fluoridation was part of the “giant raft of things coming out of central government” but at a local level a lot of people in the Central Otago community would be against fluoridated water.
Cr Martin McPherson said while the community could be “vehemently opposed”, the issue was unlikely to come across the council table.
Council executive manager corporate services Leanne Macdonald said opposition to fluoridation was possibly the reason the issue had been shifted from local to central government level.
*Original article online at https://www.odt.co.nz/regions/central-otago/fluoridation-tap-water-way