Kaitāia and Kerikeri water supplies ordered to fluoridate by June 2024

Published on 28 July 2022

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The Director-General of Health has ordered Far North District Council to fluoridate drinking water supplied to customers in Kaitāia and Kerikeri within two years.

In a letter to council Chief Executive Blair King, Dr Ashley Bloomfield advised that under section 116E of the Health Act 1956, he is exercising his “statutory powers” to direct fluoridation of drinking water supplies.

The notice follows a request for information on the district’s water supplies from the Director-General of Health that the council responded to in May 2022. In the response, council estimated it would need a total of $800,000 to bring both water supplies to fluoridation compliance. It estimated an additional $100,000 would be required annually to cover management, monitoring and chemical costs.

“Fluoridation of the Kaitāia and Kerikeri drinking water supplies is an important step in improving the oral health of your communities, and it is my intention that Manatū Hauora (the Ministry of Health) will work constructively with you to implement these important changes,” Dr Bloomfield said.

“I am satisfied that the benefits of introducing community water fluoridation across the Kaitāia and Kerikeri drinking water supplies outweigh the financial costs of doing so,” he said.

The order requires that both the Kaitāia and Kerikeri water supplies are fluoridated at levels between 0.7 to 1 parts per million and that this must be completed by 30 June 2024.

While the Ministry of Health has advised that councils affected by this order can apply for funding for capital projects associated with fluoridation from a $11.3 million fund, it has not confirmed whether it would cover the $800,000 in capital costs and $100,000 in annual operational costs detailed by Far North District Council in its May response.

The council is one of 14 local authorities that have been directed to fluoridate water supplies. They are: Whangārei District Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Waitaki District Council, Waipa District Council, Tauranga City Council, Tararua District Council, Rotorua Lakes Council, New Plymouth District Council, Nelson City Council, Kawerau District Council, Horowhenua District Council, Hastings District Council, and Auckland Council.

Councillors will receive a report on the directive and will have the opportunity to discuss next steps during a council meeting scheduled for 11 August 2022.