Fluoridation plant about to fall silent
The press of a switch by a treatment plant technician tomorrow will set in motion the end to 57 years of fluoridating Hamilton's water.
City Waters staff think it will take up to two weeks for hydrofluorosilicic acid (HFA) to completely empty from the vast network of pipes feeding Hamilton taps, with fluoride levels eventually falling to the natural levels in the river.
Once the buttons are pushed, stopping the pumps adding fluoride to the water, each will be disconnected, along with the pipework feeding HFA to the pumps.
The pumps were replaced in 2006 - the same year the city voted by a huge margin to continue fluoridation. The tanks were replaced three years ago.
Staff were still mulling what would happen to the equipment.
Meanwhile, efforts were continuing by some to force a rethink by the council of its decision to end fluoridation, reached after four days of tribunal hearings.
A petition calling for a citizens-initiated referendum on the subject has until the end of next week to gain enough signatures to force a referendum debate.
Hamilton dentist Dr Steven Pawley is one of several dentists with copies of the petition in their practice and he said there had been a strong response.
He said that most people who came in for treatment, who were Hamilton residents, were signing the petition.
"We're filling up new pages every day," he said.
Petition organiser and Hamilton city councillor Ewan Wilson said it was difficult to keep track of the number of signatures because there were now at least 10 separate copies of the petition out in the community after he was swamped by offers to help.
He estimated the total would now be in the hundreds, with another week to get at least 1500 signatures from Hamilton residents, who must be registered to vote.