Southland district councillors have indicated they will question any directive to fluoridate its water supplies.
At a services and assets committee meeting this week councillors voiced concerns after receiving a letter from the Director General of Health asking for information ahead of possibly issuing a directive to fluoridate the region’s eight water supply schemes.
A 2007 public referendum revealed 58% of Southland residents did not want water supply fluoridated and that led to many townships ceasing fluoridation processes.
Cr Don Byers thought it was important for the council to support the community’s views to remain unfluoridated or consider other options.
If drinking water suppliers serving more than 500 people are directed to fluoridate the supply, it costs about $100,000 per scheme, excluding operating and monitoring expenses.
Committee chairman Ebel Kremer said whatever the extra cost was the council should “tap on central Government’s door . . .”.
He expected the council to received a directive within the next couple of years.
Cr Karen Owen said she recognised the decision had moved from the council’s control with changes to the health system, but wanted see the community empowered with information around alternative water supplies.
“Rather than waiting to see how reforms roll out, I think there’s a lot we can be doing to empower our local community now.”
Cr Rob Scott found the timing “bizarre and frustrating”
“They are throwing us something they took control of and now it looks like we have to potentially pay for a decision we can’t have too much say in what gets made.”
He questioned the balance of costs and benefits compared to the amount of water actually consumed by humans.
“We are going to have the shiniest teeth on cows because so much of the water doesn’t reach human consumption.”
In a letter sent to the council, Dr Bloomfield said if a council was to implement fluoridation before the Three Waters reforms took control of the council assets, some funding might be available to offset the costs.
Councils which failed to comply with any directive could face fines of $200,000 and an additional $10,000 a day for non-compliance.
*Original article online at https://www.odt.co.nz/regions/southland/fluoridation-not-favoured-wider-district