Fluoride Action Network

Horowhenua District Council pauses work on fluoridation after High Court decision

Stuff NZ | Dec 22, 2023
Posted on December 22nd, 2023
Location: New Zealand

Horowehenua District Council (HDC) hopes to have more clarity on whether it should proceed to fluoridate its water supply after the High Court found orders to do so were unlawful.

The High Court found the Director-General of Health’s orders to 14 councils to fluoridate some or all of their drinking water supplies did not give specific consideration to the Bill of Rights Act.

Because of this, the council has paused work on fluoridating the Levin and Ohau town water supply while it awaits the outcome of a High Court hearing in February 2024.

The council originally had orders to fluoridate the water by July 31, 2023, but had it extended to April 30, 2024.

Given the High Court’s judgement did not “quash” directions to fluoridate drinking water, chief executive Monique Davidson said it put the council in a “difficult” position.

“We have been directed by Central Government to continue working towards fluoridating Levin’s water supply, but there is also a High Court preliminary ruling that a national directive to fluoridate water was unlawful.”

Davidson said the council hoped a new High Court hearing in February would provide more “clarity”.

Councillors were divided on how to proceed with the plan to fluoridate the water and were unable to form a majority on the “way forward”.

As a result, Davidson was seeking an extension until June 30, 2024, from the Ministry of Health.

“In the event that the direction remains in force, the extension will allow time for the High Court decision and any subsequent guidance and action from that decision.”

Horowhenua is one of 14 councils that received this direction and were able to apply for financial assistance to make the change to their water supply.

Following the initial mandate, the council investigated options on how to fluoridate the water and sought proposals from four suppliers.

Davidson said council had been working closely with the Ministry of Health on the progression of the Levin Fluoride project.

Should the mandate still stand after the hearing, the council will progress with a fluoridation system consisting of hydrofluorosilicic acid (HFA) at the Levin Water Treatment Plant.

The Ministry of Health has also approved in principle the full funding of up to $1,037,308 for the implementation of the project. HDC has also applied for an additional $40k per year operational cost.

Given the pause, the council will be working to recover the costs to date.

*Original full-text article online at: https://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/133499314/horowhenua-district-council-pauses-work-on-fluoridation-after-high-court-decision