Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Fluoride returns to Hastings drinking water

After an 8-year hiatus, fluoride is set to be reintroduced into Hastings’ main urban drinking water supply from next week.

Hastings District Council paused the addition of fluoride to the main urban water supply in 2016 following a contamination event of Havelock North water.

“That was to allow for the addition of chlorine for water safety, as at that time it was not possible to add both fluoride and chlorine,” Council said in a statement today.

It said that since that time, an extensive programme of drinking water infrastructure upgrades have been completed, which among other improvements enables both fluoride and chlorine to be added to the supply. 

Hastings Mayor, Sandra Hazlehurst said Hastings water had been fluoridated since the 1950s and a public vote in 2013 supported its use.

“It has always been Council’s intention to re-introduce fluoride, alongside chlorine once our new water storage and treatment facilities were completed.”

“This has since been reinforced by a clear directive from the Ministry of Health to resume fluoridation,” said Mayor Hazlehurst.

In July 2022, then Director General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield directed 14 councils, including Hastings District Council, to add fluoride to some or all of their water supplies. 

The directive followed the Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Act 2021 that shifted decision-making on fluoridation from councils to the Director General of Health.

In November last year, the High Court found there was a missed step in the process leading to the issuing of the requirements that needs to be addressed, but it did not rescind the direction and the affected councils are still required to proceed with fluoridation.

Fluoride will be reintroduced to the main urban water supply which provides water to Hastings, Havelock North, Flaxmere, Bridge Pa and Pakipaki. The Council is not required to add fluoride to smaller community drinking water supplies at this stage, it said in a statement.

The community drinking water station in Hastings Civic Square near the library has recently been upgraded to provide a supply of non-chlorinated, no added fluoride water for the community.

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