8 / Apr / 2022

Wellington Water continues to work at pace to restore fluoride to the Te Marua and Gear Island Water Treatment Plants.

The fluoride facilities at the Te Marua Water Treatment Plant were stopped in May 2021 and at the Gear Island Water Treatment Plant in November 2021. The fluoride facilities at the Waterloo and Wainuiomata Water Treatment Plants remain operating and we are currently dosing fluoride at these plants.

“Our job at Wellington Water is to ensure the drinking water we supply our customers and communities is safe to drink,” says Colin Crampton, Wellington Water CEO. 

“Our job is to also add fluoride to drinking water for public oral health benefits 

“I want to assure our customers and communities that we have, and continue to provide, water that is safe to drink, which meets all the required standards. 

“Last year, we made the decision to turn off the fluoride facilities at the Te Marua and Gear Island Water Treatment Plants due to operational and health and safety issues, which meant we could not guarantee that we could add fluoride safely. 

 

“We failed to communicate these decisions to the public, our Board and our stakeholders in a timely and accurate manner. This falls well short of the standard we set for ourselves, and we apologise sincerely for the concern and disappointment caused.

“The reasons for this failure are now subject to an independent inquiry, which our Board has commissioned.

“In the meantime, our focus is to safely restore fluoride as soon as possible back into the water at the Te Marua and Gear Island Water Treatment Plants, which supply Upper Hutt, Porirua, Wellington City, Stokes Valley, and Manor Park.

“We are also reviewing and improving the performance and reliability of the fluoride facilities at the Wainuiomata and Waterloo Water Treatment Plants.

“We also need to ensure this is done safely, which will take time.

“We have spent the last few weeks setting up a project team to restore fluoride to our customers and communities. We have also been inspecting the fluoride facilities and assessing their condition to ensure we fully understand what needs to be done. 

“One of the key pieces of work is to look at options to present to our Councils to decide whether we should fix and upgrade the facilities or bypass the old facilities with a new standalone one at Te Marua. For Gear Island we have already made the decision to replace the current facility with a new one. 

“Once our detailed planning is complete, we will be able to provide the public with firm delivery timeframes. We should be able to do this in the next few weeks. 

“As we work hard to restore fluoride, we want to communicate openly and transparently with the public.

“We will be providing weekly updates on the progress of our work every Friday at noon and this information will be published on our website – https://www.wellingtonwater.co.nz/your-water/drinking-water/fluoride-at-our-water-treatment-plants/.”

Information and public health advice on what to do to protect and improve oral health can be found on the Regional Public Health website https://www.rph.org.nz/news-and-events/news-and-media-releases/2022-03-17-water-fluoridation-in-wellington/.

This week we made the following progress on our work to restore fluoride

Te Marua Water Treatment Plant

We have spent the past week completing a condition assessment of the damaged baffle curtain (which works by slowing down the flow of water, allowing the fluoride powder time to mix to give operators more control of the mixing ratio) and starting a thorough review of the entire fluoride facility at Te Marua to ensure that everything is working as it should.

We are dealing with a range of factors at Te Marua before we can safely get fluoride back up and running at the plant. These are:

  • Past issues with being able to source a more suitable fluoride powder that works well with our equipment.
  • Aging fluoride dosing equipment that needs updating.
  • A damaged baffle curtain.

We have now sourced a more suitable fluoride powder for our equipment.

We are also working to repair the baffle curtain, and this is expected to be completed by the end of April.

In the meantime, will continue our review of the entire operation of the fluoride facility. This process can take time, particularly for equipment / systems that have been off for some time. It is also likely that some of the equipment will need replacing as we work through this process.

We will also be looking at options on whether we should fix and upgrade the current fluoride system or bypass the system with a new standalone one that can be housed in a container.

We’ll have a better idea of when we can get fluoride back in operation at Te Marua in the coming weeks.

Gear Island Water Treatment Plant

We’re replacing the aging Gear Island fluoride facility with a new system that can be housed in a container so we can get fluoride back up and running safely at the plant as soon as possible.

This is a standalone fluoride dosing system housed in a shipping container.

Design work for the new system is underway and we are working on purchasing the parts needed for this new system.

Due to global supply issues, we can’t provide a firm timeframe at this stage of when this new system will be in place. Once we know more, we will provide the public with timeframes.

Wainuiomata Water Treatment Plant

The fluoride facility at the Wainuiomata Water Treatment Plant remains operating.

We have made some improvements by replacing some old parts in the control system at the fluoride facility. We will continue with this work over the coming weeks to ensure it is providing a reliable and consistent level of fluoride.

We are increasing our supply of spare parts so we can address any maintenance issues as quickly as possible.

Waterloo Water Treatment Plant

The fluoride facility at the Waterloo Water Treatment plant remains operating. 

We have made some improvements by replacing some old parts in the control system at the fluoride facility. We will continue with this work over the coming weeks to ensure it is providing a reliable and consistent level of fluoride. 

We are increasing our supply of spare parts so we can address any maintenance issues as quickly as possible.

ENDS

 

Media enquiries to media@wellingtonwater.co.nz or 027 308 4648