Community water fluoridation is the process of adjusting the natural level of fluoride in the water supply to an optimal level (between 0.7 parts per million and 1.0 parts per million) that provides protection against tooth decay.
In Northland, the level of naturally occurring fluoride is 0.02 parts per million (for example, in the Whau Valley catchment area, Whangārei). The Ministry of Health recommends adjusting it to an optimum level of 0.7 parts per million in the water to be able to prevent tooth decay.
Currently, none of the reticulated water supplies in Northland are fluoridated. Kaitaia and Kaikohe were fluoridated for a brief period from 2007 to 2009.
In April 2016, Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne announced proposed legislative changes to allow District Health Boards (DHBs), rather than local authorities, to decide on which community water supplies are fluoridated in their areas. On 17 November, the Bill was first introduced in Parliament. This bill amends Part 2A of the Health Act 1956 by inserting a power for DHBs to make decisions and give directions about the fluoridation of local government drinking water supplies in their areas.
Under the proposed changes, DHBs will decide which community water supplies are fluoridated in its area. Each DHB will:
Local authorities will still be responsible for supplying drinking water. A local authority would be required to fluoridate a water supply if it is directed to do so by the DHB. Those already fluoridating will continue to do so unless directed by a DHB to stop.
Click here for further information on the Bill.