Fast forward: Hamilton's fluoride-free tap providing up to 500 litres a day

Fluoride free advocator Pat McNair fills up from the fluoride free tap in Claudelands.

Fluoride free advocator Pat McNair fills up from the fluoride free tap in Claudelands.

Fluoride free water is pumping out of one of the city's taps at a rate of hundreds of litres a day. 

Since its installation outside Claudelands Events Centre last September, an estimated 40,000 litres of unfluoridated water has poured from the pipes of the special tap.

The outlet, installed by Hamilton City Council, is one of two set up in Hamilton to provide residents with an alternative to the city's fluoridated water supply. 

The Claudelands tap cost the majority of the $70,000 that was spent on the outlet and installing a tap at a bore-fed unflouridated water source at the Taitua Arboretum. 

It seems to be proving its worth, council city waters manager Maire Porter said. 

"As far as we can tell it is being well utilised by the community and we think it is meeting the demand. Anything that is meeting the needs of the community is beneficial."

The tap, situated near the children's playground car park and the historic grandstand, has been operational since October 2016. 

From then until December, Porter said about 300 litres a day was going through the tap. 

As temperatures rose during late December and through January, usage has increased to around 500 litres a day, she said. 

"During the design phase, it was challenging to come up with a prediction of how much would be going through the system, but we know it is more than capable of delivering on the city needs."

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There were no cameras or monitoring, so it was hard to say how many people were using the outlet, she said. 

"We can only measure the flow of water going through a day."

The tap's system is the only one of its kind in New Zealand, using a reverse osmosis system to remove fluoride from the city's regular water supply before it goes through a disinfection process. 

Everything is taken out, including fluoride, chlorine, minerals and trace elements. Chlorine is then added back in to kill any disease-causing pathogens

The outlet has two taps at different heights as well as a drinking fountain. The lower tap has a hose connection suitable for connecting flexible garden hoses, making it easy to fill large containers.

"At this stage, it is operating very well and we have had no issues with it."

Council was also considering attaching a metre to a second unfluoridated water source at the Taitua Arboretum, where water was drawn from a bore, to gauge its usage, Porter said. 

As for whether the city will consider other fluoride-free outlets, Porter said it was not on the table but always up for discussion. 

"It has only been several months - time will tell whether the community want further taps."



 - Stuff

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