Controversy Continues to Swirl Around Hannibal’s Water
Hannibal’s drinking water dispute spilled over into City Hall Tuesday evening. A group of citizens at the city council meeting applauded three speakers who voiced concerns regarding the safety of Hannibal's water.
Supporters of three groups protesting recent changes to disinfection chemicals held up signs that read “No Chloramines”. The Hannibal Board of Public Works recently changed its water disinfection protocol due to DNR mandates. The Board switched from chlorine to chloramines, a mixture of chlorine and ammonia, after being cited for exceeding disinfection byproduct standards from using chlorine alone.
The concerned citizens contend chloramines present potential health hazards and its byproducts also have detrimental effects, although those standards are still being established. The groups say safer alternatives should be explored, such as charcoal filtration. It is generally agreed by both sides that alternatives will be considerably more costly. Supporters of safer alternatives say the health of Hannibal’s citizens and future generations outweigh budget concerns.
BPW officials also addressed the council. Board President Randy Park said the BPW shares the ultimate goal of safe drinking water. Park says as a local business owner, the health of his 200 employees (who are drinking the same water) is an ongoing priority. But ultimately the issue boils down to the fiduciary duty to ratepayers to provide the safest possible water while keeping costs down. BPW General Manager Bob Stevenson told the council changes need to come from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources in Jefferson City. The change to chloramines resulted from citations by the DNR for excessive disinfection byproducts from chlorine. Supporters of water treatment alternatives were urged to pressure the MO DNR to work out a better solution.
Although the BPW is an entity independent of the City, supporters of alternative disinfection methods urged city officials to hold the BPW accountable to communicate progress made toward a solution. General Manager Bob Stevenson assured the council the BPW will research alternatives and provide updates to the public.
In other business, City Collector Phyllis Nelson updated the council on delinquent business licenses. At the beginning of 2015, 1200 businesses had not purchased a city license. That number dwindled down to 98 by the beginning of October. Some were removed from the list due to closures, bringing the number to 73. The 73 businesses were contacted by mail which resulted in the number falling to 49. Certified letters went out to the 49, and as of October 21, 37 were still delinquent. Nelson told the council Tuesday the number now stands at 19. The Council approved notifying the 19 businesses that a 30 day appeal window is now in effect, and any delinquent licenses remaining after the 30-day period will be forwarded to the police department. Officers will then follow up to make sure the business is no longer operating in the city.
The council also gave First Reading to a Bill providing for a municipal election on Tuesday, April 5, 2016. Voters will choose a new Mayor and decide races for Council Member in the 2nd and 4th Wards.