Water Supply

A law change in November 2021 means the Director General of Health – not councils – now makes all decisions around fluoridation.

No Timaru District Council community water supplies are currently fluoridated, however, we may be issued a legal instruction to add fluoride to some of our water supplies in the future. Find out more below.

Do any TDC water supplies currently have fluoride added to them?

No. There are no Timaru District Council water supplies which have fluoride added at this time (including the Downlands water supply).

Have any Council water supplies had fluoride added in the past?

Yes. Previously the Timaru City water had fluoride added between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s.

Who makes the decision about adding fluoride to the water?

Currently, that decision sits with the New Zealand Director General of Health per their legislative delegation under the Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Act 2021. This is not a Council decision.

Which Timaru District Council water supplies might have fluoride added in the future?

It is likely that fluoride may be added to the following water supplies in the future*:

  • Timaru
  • Temuka
  • Downlands (Te Ana Wai)
  • Geraldine
  • Te Moana
  • Pleasant Point
  • Seadown

*This is per correspondence received from the Director General of Health.

What is the reason for adding fluoride?

The Ministry of Health's intention is for fluoridation to reduce rates of preventable tooth decay.

Timaru District Council received correspondence from the Ministry of Health in November 2021 and December 2022 indicating that they intend to issue us with a directive to add fluoride to seven of our water supplies. We have not yet received this directive.

When will fluoride be added? What are the likely timeframes?

Once we receive an official directive, we cannot act immediately as capital and operational works need to happen first at each location. Some water supplies could have fluoride added within 9-12 months of a directive being issued. The Timaru, Geraldine and Seadown water supplies will take the longest to get ready, with implementation taking 2-3 years.

Is introducing fluoride related to drinking water regulation or Water Services Reform?

No, this is unrelated.

This is not an issue for the drinking water regulator (Taumata Arowai) as it is not related to water safety.

This is also separate to the Water Services Reform process being managed by the Department of Internal Affairs which is about the future of water services delivery in New Zealand.

Fluoride is an issue for the Ministry of Health issue regarding oral health / and preventing tooth decay.

Is fluoride related to water treatment processes or chlorine?

No. Fluoride is not used for water treatment. Chlorine is added to water supplies for water safety.

Where can I get more information?

General information about the health and efficacy of fluoride is available on the Ministry of Health website.

Last updated: 21 Sep 2023