26 Feb 2024

Wellington Water admits fluoride levels rarely up to standard

7:36 pm on 26 February 2024
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Wellington Water chief executive Tonia Haskell said a number of small incidents had a cumulative impact. Photo: 123RF

Wellington Water has failed again to meet Ministry of Health fluoride targets.

In a media release on Monday, the water provider said it had failed to provide fluoride to target levels at least 95 percent of the time in most parts of Wellington and Lower Hutt over the last four months.

Wellington Water attributed it to treatment plant outages, equipment issues and workplace health and safety improvements.

Chief executive Tonia Haskell said they had a number of small incidents that had a cumulative impact.

Haskell said due to pumps at their Gear Island Plant needing to be replaced by new pumps from Germany, they did not expect fluoride to meet Ministry of Health targets for "the next few months".

"While we have been keeping people informed over the past few months, the ongoing issues with the pump at Gear Island means we want to ensure that the public are well aware of any issues that would impact our ability to meet the Ministry of Health target levels."

The suburbs that had not been affected in Lower Hutt were Stokes Valley, Manor Park, Korokoro and Petone. Wellington's northern and western suburbs were also not affected.

The problems followed a scathing review in 2022 that found fluoridating water was "not a priority" for Wellington Water. The review was triggered after it was revealed water in the region had been inconsistently fluoridated for six years.

Wellington Water also announced an application for it to be exempt from new rules around chlorine compliance set out by water regulator Taumata Arowai had been rejected.

The standard required water from the treatment plant to have a longer contact time with chlorine to reduce the risk of bacteria.

Wellington Water said it was working on upgrades to bring its chlorine levels up to standard.

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