North Canterbury’s three councils have no plans to introduce fluorideinto drinking supplies.

The issue of fluoridation has been hotting up around the country since the passing of the Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Act 2021.

The new legislation gives the director-general of health the power to direct councils to fluoridate drinking water supplies, but no directive has been issued to the Kaik?ura, Hurunui or Waimakariri councils so far.

All three councils said it was unlikely any fluoridation will be introduced before July 2024, when it is proposed the new Three Waters entities woul

Former director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield wrote to councils in December last year to confirm fluoridation of supplies serving more than 500 people would be required under the Act.

Information on the costs and timeframes for introducing fluoridation was requested and directives were subsequently issued to several councils.

But no directives have been received by the three North Canterbury councils to date.

A Kaik?ura District Council spokesperson said fluoridation would only apply to the urban supply, as the other schemes served less than 250 people each.

“The council does not have any provision for capital or operational costs of fluoridation in our current long term or annual plans.

“Our understanding is there will be no requirements for Kaik?ura District Council ahead of the current proposed creation of the regional three waters entities in July 2024.”

It was estimated it would cost $150,000 to upgrade the Kaik?ura urban supply and $20,000 per year in operating costs.

The total annual operating cost for all eight of Kaik?ura’s drinking water supplies was around $700,000, so introducing fluoridation would have a major impact on rates if no national funding was available.

Hurunui District Council chief executive Hamish Dobbie said the council had not discussed the issue nor formed “a view” on fluoridation.

“If officers were asked, we would put together a paper to discuss the pros and cons.

“It [fluoridation] has been a very difficult issue for local government in the past.”

Mayor Marie Black feared fluoridation could become yet another “unfunded mandate”, with central government “imposing its will” and leaving ratepayers to bear the cost.

A Waimakariri District Council spokesperson said there was no desire to introduce fluoridation into Waimakariri’s water supplies.

“We have not received any such directive, and don’t know if or when the next batch of councils will be instructed to install fluoridation equipment.

“We don’t fluoridate any supplies but if and when we get a directive to do so, there will still be a long lead in time to allow us to budget for this work and construct the necessary upgrades.”

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