First stage of upgraded fluoride facilities secures funding
Greater Wellington has approved a $6 million capital funding request from Wellington Water to restore fluoride to drinking water at the Te Marua and Gear Island Water Treatment Plants and review and upgrade fluoridation facilities at Wainuiomata and Waterloo.
The funding is the first part of a two-stage strategy to upgrade fluoridation facilities throughout Wellington.
Its initial focus is on restoring fluoridation, with the second stage ensuring Wellington Water can meet more stringent Ministry of Health fluoride requirements which will come into force from 1 July 2022.
Under the Ministry’s new standards, at least 95 per cent of water leaving treatment plants must be dosed. Wellington Water is working on a strategic business case to ensure the requirements can be met and a further funding request will be made for stage two upgrades for the next financial year.
“This is an investment in regional public health”, says Greater Wellington Chair Daran Ponter. “The community expects us, through Wellington Water, to fluoridate drinking water at the right levels, and that’s what the new funding will achieve.
“First off, we’ll get fluoridisation up and running again, then we’ll work with Wellington Water on a longer-term solution to ensure reliable supply of fluoridated drinking water that will meet the upcoming Ministry of Health standards.”
One of the key considerations that need to be worked through for stage two is the continuation of reliable fluoridate of drinking water if a facility fails or needs to be taken offline for maintenance. The current configuration of a single fluoride facility at each of the water treatment plants has no back-up option.
“Today’s funding decision is crucial as it allows us to move with certainty and confidence to restore fluoridation to the drinking water for Upper Hutt, Porirua, Wellington City, Stokes Valley, and Manor Park,” says Wellington Water Chief Executive Colin Crampton.
“This funding allows Wellington Water to resume fluoridation at the Gear Island and Te Marua plants and increase the reliability of the plants that continue to dose at Wainuiomata and Waterloo.
“Critical to restoring fluoridation at Gear Island and Te Marua is building new standalone facilities that will replace the current older facilities. These new facilities will be more reliable than the existing equipment and can be repurposed for the second stage works.”
Wellington Water says the timing for restoring fluoridation is dependent on the international supply of equipment. Once it has firm times for the delivery of equipment it will advise of the of the resumption of fluoridation.
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