Christchurch will know by the end of the year if it will be forced to fluoridate its water supplies.
The Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Act gives the Director-General of Health power to direct local authorities to add fluoride to public drinking water supplies.
The Health Ministry has signalled it will start issuing local authorities with directions to fluoridate from the middle of this year.
However, Christchurch City Council has raised concerns that adding fluoride to its drinking water could delay the delivery of its drinking water improvement programme due to cost and complexity.
A report prepared by the city council advises a minimum of 44 months would be needed to implement fluoridation with initial cost estimates of more than $60 million.
City council head of three waters Helen Beaumont said the city council is working closely with the ministry to make sure it fully understands the situation in the city and the complexity of the water supply.
“In December 2021 we provided the Ministry of Health with a range of information on fluoridating our water supply network, including how much it would cost and how long it would take.
“The Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, has now considered this information and decided that Christchurch City Council will not be one of the first local authorities to receive a direction on fluoridation,’’ Beaumont said.
Instead, the city and Banks Peninsula water supplies will be considered over the coming months, with a decision made by the end of the year.
Beaumont said the estimated time frame of at least 44 months was acknowledged by Bloomfield.
He advised any direction to fluoridate may have compliance dates set for after July 2024, which is the date when the new water service entities the Government is planning as part of its Three Waters Reform programme are established.
“Dr Bloomfield has strongly encouraged us to continue overall design work so we have more certainty about what work will be required, costs, and timeframes for fluoridating the water,” said Beaumont.
“We’re committed to continuing to work closely with the Ministry of Health to ensure the best outcomes for the community from our water supply network.”
*Original article online at https://www.odt.co.nz/star-news/star-christchurch/fluoride-decision-end-year