Fluoride Action Network

Fluoride pause in Methven

Ashburton Guardian | March 17, 2023 | By Jonathan Leask
Posted on March 17th, 2023
Location: New Zealand

Fluoride is about to run out in the Methven water supply, and it won’t be added again until the new $9.6m treatment system is operational.

Fluoride has been added to the town’s water supply since the 1970s to help with dental health. The pause on the Ashburton District Council’s only fluoridated supply is an issue of timing.

The fluoride product (sodium fluoride) used in the current treatment plant is running out, with the last of the supply added to the system, and will last until around the end of March or mid-April, depending on scheme demand. The new membrane treatment system uses a different fluoride product (hydrofluorosilicic acid) but won’t be operational until July at the earliest.

That means fluoridation will cease until the new water treatment plant is commissioned.
Infrastructure and open spaces group manager, Neil McCann said the ‘pause option’ was the only way to go after an exhaustive investigation. The council could have imported a fresh shipment, but the minimum order was two tonnes and they only need a few bags, so would have been left with an expensive pile of unusable fluoride.
The council searched nationwide for a supply or temporary equipment to fill the gap but it came up empty or too expensive, forcing the pause and the hopes for a dispensation by Manatu Hauora, Ministry of Health.
The council has advised the Director General of Health of the situation McCann said, and they have had no response as yet.

McCann said “clearly it is a temporary situation” but is unsure if it will come with any form of infringement or punishment.
So the fluoridation will soon cease until the new water treatment plant is commissioned.
McCann is closely monitoring the construction of the membrane plant, and he said the contractors are pushing for completion of the building and commissioning as soon as possible, “hopefully by July or early August”.
The membrane treatment plant will bring an end to the boil water notices caused by turbidity issues that have plagued the town.
The second reservoir tank is currently undergoing leak testing and will then be flushed and retested over a 10-day period to have it filled finally at the end of March or early April.
“Once the second reservoir has been successfully commissioned, it will be connected to the supply tank.”
Consultants BECA are set to start the investigation of the old reservoir tank’s structural integrity and if it can be used or needs to be demolished.

*Original full-text article online at: https://www.guardianonline.co.nz/news/untitled-123/