Hannibal's drinking water debate resulted in new council action Tuesday evening.The council voted to seek a quote for a cost analysis of switching to granulated activated charcoal (GAC) as a method of disinfection.

Second Ward Councilman Mike Dobson proposed the action as a result of the successful petition drive seeking to remove the disinfectant chloramines--a mixture of chlorine and ammonia--from the water supply.  Hannibal switched from chlorine to chloramines in 2015, after repeated violations of disinfection by-products from use of chlorine alone.  A citizens group signed up enough valid voter signatures to force the issue to appear on the April 2017 municipal ballot.  The group cites health concerns and damage to plumbing fixtures as reasons to remove ammonia from the water supply.

Mayor James Hark praised Dobson's proposal, stating it was "proactive" to explore the costs of switching to GAC before the issue goes to voters.  Dobson's proposal would solicit a quote from the engineering firm Black and Veach.  If approved, the firm would conduct an independent study to determine the true cost to customers of removing ammonia and switching to GAC.  Dobson says another issue would be determining whether the GAC filtration would be most efficient at the beginning or end of the water processing operation.

Councilman James Van Hoose expressed concern with having enough time to conduct a study before the April election.  Mayor Hark agreed, stating that would be one of the first issues discussed with the engineers.  Van Hoose also cautioned the engineering firm must be scrutinized to ensure they are indeed a independent third party with no ties to the BPW or water quality expert Robert Bowcock.  Bowcock is affiliated with the citizens group seeking to remove chloramines.

The council voted to move ahead with a request for a quote from the engineering firm.