Hamilton City Council has deferred a decision on whether or not to re-fluoridate the city’s water supply.
Seven councillors voted to remove fluoride from the water in June, however, a subsequent referendum in October saw 70% of voters asking for the chemical to be put back.
Councillors today voted seven to five to delay the decision until the outcome of a High Court decision in Taranaki.
One of the options considered today was a plan, costed by reluctant staff at between $200,000-$300,000, to install an unfluoridated tap at the water treatment plant. Those staff have raised a suite of concerns about the idea.
Explaining the likely cost and unknown demand, staff said fluoride was added part way through the treatment process, with other treatment stages later.
Therefore a “secondary pathway” would need to be be built for unfluoridated water to ensure compliance with New Zealand’s drinking water standards.
The initial estimate included the physical infrastructure and operating costs.
Staff instead suggested an alternative – an unfluoridated municipal drinking water fountain – that would still be likely to cost $15,000, and $3000 a year.
The cost of the city’s drawn out wrangle over fluoride is beginning to mount.
Lawyers have billed the city council $32,000, the four-day tribunal cost at least a further $6000, the referendum another $14,000, and other there were costs such as staff time, printing and advertising.
Hamilton Residents and Ratepayers Association president Rod Bowman, whose membership is largely anti-fluoride, said the city could not afford to install an unfluoridated supply, and a cheaper solution was to keep fluoride out.