Scope and terms of reference set for Wellington Water fluoridation inquiry
The Wellington Water Board has set the scope and terms of reference for an independent inquiry into events that resulted in Wellington Water ceasing fluoridation of drinking water at the Te Marua and Gear Island water treatment plants.
The inquiry will also look at the failure of management to inform the Board, the Water Committee, and the public of this in an accurate and timely manner.
The independent inquiry was announced on 17 March 2022, after the Board and the Wellington Water Committee – made up of representatives from each of Wellington Water’s council owners – were notified that the organisation had released initially incorrect information.
Undertaken by Doug Martin of Martin Jenkins, the inquiry is expected to take up to eight weeks.
“The Board wishes to apologise to the people of Wellington who, quite rightly, had an expectation that their water would be fluoridated. We also wish to acknowledge the concern this situation has caused”, says Lynda Carroll, Board Chair of Wellington Water.
“We understand the public’s desire for more information and answers as to how this situation occurred. The Board share that desire, which is why we have commissioned the independent inquiry – a vital step to achieving this clarity.”
While the inquiry is underway, Wellington Water continues to work at pace to restore fluoride at the Te Maura and Gear Island water treatment plants.
The Waterloo and Wainuiomata fluoride plants continue to operate normally.
“I want to assure the public that we are working as quickly as possible to safely restore fluoride into the water for Upper Hutt, Porirua, Wellington City, Stokes Valley and Manor Park.
“Wellington Water will be providing weekly updates on the progress of this work and this information will be published on our website – https://www.wellingtonwater.co.nz/your-water/drinking-water/fluoride-at-our-water-treatment-plants/.
“Meanwhile, the Wellington Water operation team will be providing regular updates without predetermining or compromising the integrity of the inquiry.
“On completion of the inquiry, the Wellington Water Board will announce both the findings and information to ensure this situation does not occur again,” Lynda says.
The scope of inquiry is as follows:
1 In the course of the inquiry Mr Martin will:
a review and, where appropriate, provide recommendations on:
i the management of Wellington Water’s plants, including asset management, as relevant to the decision to cease fluoridation of drinking water at Te Marua and Gear Island Water Treatment Plants
ii the information provided to the Board, and the timeliness of that information, both in the lead up to and regarding the decision to cease fluoridation
iii communication with key stakeholders and the public in relation to the decision.
b consider the findings of a technical review that management have already commissioned into the operation of the two treatment plants that are the subject of this review.
c make comment on any broader systemic matters that he considers relevant to this review.