Our supplies

Overview

The Ministry of Health recommends that everyone flush a mugful of water from the drinking-water tap each morning before use to remove any metals that might have dissolved from the plumbing fittings.

While the health risk is low, everyone, whether you are connected to a Council managed water supply or you have your own water supply, should do this.

Standards we comply with

All water supplied to homes and businesses by Council is treated water in accordance with the requirements set out by:

  • the Local Government Act 2002 (section 130), which requires Council to continue to provide water services and maintain its capacity to do so;
  • the Health Act 1956, which sets out the legal requirements for water supplies;
  • the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017, which sets out conditions of legal access to the public supply for firefighting purposes; and
  • the New Zealand Fire Service Firefighting Water Supplies Code of Practice SNZ PAS 4509:2008, which sets out minimum standards to which the fire-fighting supply is to be provided.

Water treatment

In 2018, a comprehensive water analysis confirmed that Horowhenua’s drinking water is well below the Maximum Acceptable limits for determinands of health significance requirements in the current Drinking Water Standards NZ (DWSNZ) 2005 (Revised 2018).

IANZ-accredited Environmental Laboratory Services, tested the drinking water supplied to Levin, Foxton, Foxton Beach, Shannon and Tokomaru. The laboratory results showed that the town water supplied to our communities contained very low levels of heavy metals such as arsenic, chromium and lead.

Council planned, after the 2018 heavy metal analysis, to carry out independent testing every five years as a precautionary measure, although it was not a requirement in the New Zealand Drinking Water Standards.

The Drinking Water Standards of New Zealand is currently being revised with new requirements which will now include the metal testing, as a new rule. You can view the new draft rules on the Taumata Arowai website.

Town water supplies in Horowhenua do not contain fluoride*.

*Horowhenua District Council has received a directive from the Director-General of Health under The Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Act 2021 to start fluoridating the Levin and Ōhau drinking water supply by 31 July 2023.

Fluoridation

Horowhenua District Council is one of 14 local authorities that have received a directive from the Director-General of Health under The Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Act 2021 to start fluoridating its drinking water supply. The directive stipulates that the Levin and Ōhau drinking water supply must be fluoridated by 31 July 2023. This date has been extended to 30 November 2024.

The Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Act 2021 shifted decision-making on fluoridation from local authorities to the Director-General of Health. The change allows for a nationally consistent approach to community water fluoridation based on its well-established health benefits.

The mandate is for Levin and Ōhau drinking water supply only at this stage. Council has not discussed or budgeted for fluoridation of other drinking water supplies across the district. 

To address public concerns, Council has allocated budget to introduce a fluoride-free tap supply at the Levin Water Treatment Plant. The project is in its initial stages, with planning and design yet to be developed.

Please see the attached letter addressing community concerns and outlining our response to the recent NZBORA assessment for the directive to fluoridate the Levin Water Supply. The Council is making every effort to ensure our community's voice is heard in this important matter.

Horowhenua-District-Council-response-to-Ministry-of-Health-Information-relevant-to-community-water-fluoridation-Bill-of-Rights-Act-analysis-June-2024.pdf(PDF, 110KB)

More information on the Director-General of Health’s role in decision making on the fluoridation of drinking water supplies can be found on the Manatū Hauora website.

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a natural substance that helps protect our teeth by making them stronger, and reducing tooth decay. It exists naturally in air, soil, fresh water, sea water, plants and in lots of food.

Source: Manatū Hauora | Ministry of Health – Fluoride and Oral Health - www.health.govt.nz/our-work/preventative-health-wellness/fluoride-and-oral-health, available under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.

Water fluoridation

Water fluoridation is the process of adjusting the natural level of fluoride in the water supply to between 0.7 ppm and 1.0 ppm. This is the optimal amount that provides protection against tooth decay, and is recommended by the World Health Organization.

The current level of fluoride found in untreated water supplies in New Zealand is not effective enough to be of benefit in helping to prevent tooth decay, so ‘topping up’ the fluoride levels in reticulated water supplies has been done in many regions around New Zealand over several decades. The amount added is monitored to make sure that the levels stay within that range.

Along with brushing twice a day, eating healthy foods and timely check-ups with a dental provider, water fluoridation is a proven public health measure to reduce tooth decay. The World Health Organization and other international and national health and scientific experts endorse water fluoridation as the most effective public health measure for the prevention of dental decay. The role of fluoride in water has been examined in many locations and in many countries, including New Zealand, over the last 60 years.

Fluoride works in three ways to help protect our teeth from decay:

  1. Fluoride makes teeth more resistant to decay by strengthening the tooth surface
  2. Fluoride interferes with the growth of the bacteria which cause cavities
  3. Fluoride helps to repair the early stages of tooth decay.

Eating and drinking increases the acidity in the mouth – this can remove the minerals from teeth, leading to tooth decay. Drinking fluoridated water and brushing teeth with fluoride toothpaste increases the concentration of fluoride in saliva and plaque fluid. Fluoride in water acts like a constant repair kit that neutralises the effect of acids that cause decay and helps to repair damage before it becomes permanent.

Source: Manatū Hauora | Ministry of Health – Flouride and Oral Health - www.health.govt.nz/our-work/preventative-health-wellness/fluoride-and-oral-health, available under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.

Facts about fluoride

Community Water Fluoridation is an effective, safe and affordable way to prevent and reduce tooth decay for everyone.

Along with brushing teeth twice a day, eating healthy food and avoiding sugary drinks, water fluoridation helps to prevent tooth decay.

Over half of children, and over a third of adults, don’t brush twice daily with the recommended fluoride toothpaste – so water fluoridation is particularly important. (Ministry of Health’s NZ Oral Health Survey 2009)

It’s effective

Over 60 years of international and New Zealand studies show that children and adults living in areas with water fluoridation have significantly less tooth decay than those living in non-fluoridated areas.

The NZ Oral Health Survey 2009 shows that on average New Zealand children have 40% less decay experience (ie, decayed, missing or filled teeth) in areas with fluoridation than in areas without it.

It’s safe

Overwhelming evidence from decades of having Community Water Fluoridation is that it is safe. ‘It is absolutely clear that at doses used in New Zealand to adjust the natural level to one that is consistent with beneficial effects (0.7–1.0ppm), there is no risk from fluoride in the water.’ Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Advisor, Office of the Prime Minister's Science Advisory Committee.

It’s affordable

There is strong evidence that community water fluoridation is cost-effective – saving much more in dental costs for individuals than it costs to run fluoridation programmes:

  • Cost of fluoridation approx. $2.60 per person per year (Sapere Research Group, 2015)
  • $250: Average cost of a single filling for an adult (Sapere Research Group, 2015)

For every dollar that is spent on water fluoridation, $9 are saved in dental care costs. Some of these savings are seen by the health system, but it is mostly individual New Zealanders who benefit – paying for fewer fillings and tooth extractions. (Sapere Research Group, 2015).

Source: Manatū Hauora | Ministry of Health – Fluoride Facts - www.health.govt.nz/your-health/healthy-living/teeth-and-gums/fluoride/fluoride-factsavailable under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.

Questions and answers - Fluoride

How much difference does having the fluoride in water topped up make?

A lot. There is significant evidence from over 60 years that confirms that water fluoridation at recommended levels prevents dental decay.

New Zealand's most recent national oral health survey shows on average 40% less tooth decay experience for children in fluoridated areas than in those areas without it (New Zealand Oral Health Survey, Ministry of Health, 2009). The Australian National Survey of Adult Oral Health (2013) showed that adults experience 20–30% less tooth decay.

Many other international studies, and regional studies within New Zealand, have shown that children and adults living in areas with community water fluoridation have significantly lower tooth decay than people living in areas without it.

How do we know if it’s safe?

Fluoride already exists in water. It is topped up to levels that provide a benefit to teeth. At these carefully monitored levels, fluoride is safe and within the guidelines of the World Health Organization and other international public health agencies.

‘It is absolutely clear that at doses used in New Zealand to adjust the natural level to one that is consistent with beneficial effects (0.7–1.0 ppm), there is no risk from fluoride in the water.’
– Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Advisor, Office of the Prime Minister’s Science Advisory Committee.

In August 2014, the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Office of the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor jointly published the report Health Effects of Water Fluoridation: A Review of the Scientific Evidence. This report found that community water fluoridation within the range of concentrations currently recommended by the Ministry of Health and used in New Zealand poses no health risks, and the report also confirmed that there is compelling evidence of dental health benefits for New Zealanders.

Are there any known side-effects to community water fluoridation?

The only known side-effect of fluoridation at levels used in New Zealand is mild dental fluorosis, and it makes the teeth look whiter than normal enamel. It is visible to dental health professionals under close examination, and recent evidence from Australia indicates that this fades with time. There are no reported cases of disfiguring fluorosis associated with the fluoridating of water supplies in New Zealand.

The Ministry of Health’s New Zealand Oral Health Survey 2009 notes, ‘no significant differences in the prevalence of fluorosis...between people living in fluoridated areas and those in non-fluoridated areas’.

‘One side-effect of fluoride is for a portion of the population it causes minimal white mottling of the enamel...This is very rarely discernible and is definitely not the severe fluorosis that is so often pictured on websites of those opposed to fluoridation of the public water supply’
– Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Advisor, Office of the Prime Minister’s Science Advisory Committee

If people brushed their teeth would it mean we don't need water fluoridation?

Keeping your teeth healthy also requires brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, dental care and reducing sugar. Community water fluoridation provides additional benefits even if you do all these things. Over half of New Zealand adults avoid going to the dentist because of cost, and over half of New Zealand children don’t brush their teeth twice a day with the recommended strength fluoride toothpaste.

That’s why community water fluoridation is so important – it makes good oral health accessible to all.

If it’s so good for you why do people oppose it?

There are different reasons why people oppose water fluoridation. These may include health concerns, not being aware of the benefits and wanting individual choice.

Communities can be confident that community water fluoridation is an effective and safe option. There is strong international evidence that there are no adverse effects of any significance arising from fluoridation at the levels used in New Zealand.

What do other countries do?

The World Health Organization recommends boosting fluoride to optimum levels and community water fluoridation as the best method to do this. Use of community water fluoridation in Australia and the USA has expanded. In some countries in Europe, the practicalities in adding fluoride to the water supply, mean that alternative methods are used to boost fluoride to optimal health levels – such as adding fluoride to salt or milk.

Source: Manatū Hauora | Ministry of Health – Questions and Answers - Fluoride - www.health.govt.nz/your-health/healthy-living/teeth-and-gums/fluoride/fluoride-facts/questions-and-answers-fluoride, available under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.

Resource Consents

Council has consent from Horizons Regional Council to take water from the Ōhau and Tokomaru Rivers and the Mangaore Stream. We also have consent to take water from several bores in Foxton and Foxton Beach.

Fire hydrants and fire supply connections

It's illegal to take water from fire hydrants and is subject to a $20,000 fine on conviction. Only Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) is allowed to draw water from hydrants without prior approval from Council. Illegally taking water from a fire hydrant can cause damage to our water supply network and potentially damage the water supply. 

Council takes unauthorised use of fire hydrants seriously, and may seize and impound vehicles or other property involved in drawing water from hydrants without authorisation. In addition, Council may assess and recover the value of water drawn and any associated costs.

If you see or hear of anyone taking water from a fire hydrant, and if it is safe to do so, please take a photo and record details such as location, date, time and vehicle registration number and send them to enquiries@horowhenua.govt.nz or call (06) 366 0999 if you wish to remain anonymous.

Fire hydrant poster - Fire hydrants are for fighting fires.

Your community supply

Horowhenua District Council supplies drinking water to residents in Levin, Foxton, Foxton Beach, Shannon, Mangaore and Tokomaru.

Levin 

Levin is supplied with treated water taken from the Ōhau River – the average daily treated water demand is between 9,600 cubic metres a day (m3/day) and can increase to 12,800 m3/day on peak days. The network is made up of 215 kilometres of main pipes and 53.5km of lateral pipes. We supply water to 8,415 properties, including some properties in Ōhau.

The Levin Water Treatment Plant is located on Gladstone Road. It has a 12 million litre storage capacity which provides at least 24 hours of water storage throughout the year. The plant contains a water clarifier that removes silt, before it undergoes various processes including an ultraviolet treatment and chemical dosing including the addition of chlorine.

Council’s resource consent allows for up to 15,000 m3 per day to be taken, except when the flow of the Ōhau River drops below a certain level – then, only 13,000 m3 can be taken. This generally happens in summer, and leads to water restrictions in both Levin and Ōhau.

Foxton

Foxton is supplied with water from two bores and the network is made up of 29.3km of mains and 13.1km of laterals. In all we supply 1,880 properties in Foxton. 

Most summers, Foxton has water restrictions due to increased demand.

Foxton Beach

Foxton Beach is supplied by two bores and the network is made up of 26.4km of mains and 14.1km of laterals. In all, we supply water to 1,600 properties in Foxton Beach. In summer, the population swells, leading to higher demand for water so restrictions are put in place to manage the demand.

Shannon and Mangaore

Shannon and Mangaore are supplied by a water take from Mangaore Stream, which is supplemented by a bore. In all, we supply 727 properties in Shannon and 35 properties in Mangaore.

In general, water restrictions are expected most summers to prevent water wastage.

Tokomaru

Tokomaru is supplied with water from Tokomaru River, which is processed at a treatment plant in Tokomaru East Road where it runs through filtration plant followed by a UV and chlorine to disinfect it. The network is made up of 6km of mains and 2.1km of laterals. We supply 206 properties.

Tokomaru does not generally have water restrictions, but they can be expected in dry summers.

Water Tanker Filling Station

Water tanker filling is only available to permit holders, from the dedicated tanker filling station located in the Council Depot at 122 Hokio Beach Road, Levin.

A permit can be applied for by completing an application form and submitting it along with an application fee of $200 to enquiries@horowhenua.govt.nz. Please contact Council for an application form.

Please see our Water - Fees & Charges page for the current flat rate and volumetric charges.