Drinking-water fluoridation subsidy

District councils can apply to the Ministry of Health for financial assistance with the set-up costs of water fluoridation. The policy intent, criteria and process are set out below.

Policy and criteria

  • Although the Sanitary Works Subsidy Scheme has closed, funding may be available to assist with the set-up costs of fluoridating local drinking-water supplies.
  • The funding assistance supports Councils with their general duty under section 23 of the Health Act 1956 to ‘improve, promote and protect public health’.
  • A subsidy of around 50 percent may be provided to contribute to the cost of relevant capital works. Up to 100 percent of costs may be covered in special circumstances, at the Minister of Health’s discretion.
  • Funding does not cover operating costs.
  • Assistance is for those areas where fluoridation has not previously been in place (or at least not in recent history). Consideration may be given to special circumstances.
  • If the number of applications exceeds funding capacity, priority will be given to regions that cover populations of high need (for example, NZDep level 7 and above), to areas with particular oral health problems, and/or to district councils outside the main urban areas. Alternatively, some applications may be held over for payment in the following fiscal year.
  • If fluoridation ceases within 10 years of a grant being made, funding will be clawed back on a pro-rata basis.


  • Applications should be made by letter to the local Medical Officer of Health, detailing when and how the decision to fluoridate was made, the type of plant required, expected costs, population(s) to be covered, the level of support for fluoridation in the general community and any other supporting information considered relevant.
  • Following consultation with the Public Health Unit, the Oral Health Service and other relevant parties, the Medical Officer of Health should forward the application, together with a recommendation, to the Oral Health team at the Ministry of Health.
  • The Ministry will acknowledge receipt of the application to the applicant and the Medical Officer of Health. The Oral Health team will coordinate a technical review of the application and forward it to the Minister of Health.
  • Councils will be advised of the Minister’s decision as soon as it is available and, if approved, what invoice information is required.
  • Where a subsidy is approved, payment will generally be made in two instalments: firstly on evidence of the plant to be commissioned and secondly, on evidence that the plant has been operated successfully for one month.
  • The process is expected to take between 3–6 months, from application to the Medical Officer of Health to a decision by the Minister of Health.
  • For planning purposes, the Ministry would appreciate early notice of any council’s intention to apply for the subsidy, or if the issue of water fluoridation is to be considered in the near future (contact the Oral Health team).
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