Rebuilding Hannibal’s stormwater system would more than drain the city’s resources dry. 

The potential price tag ranges from $30-50 million and could take 20 years to complete. That sobering message was delivered to the Hannibal City Council Tuesday by BPW General Manager Bob Stevenson. He said the city’s stormwater system continues to deteriorate while the massive amount of labor, time, and money needed for repairs is not available. Stevenson’s Powerpoint presentation included photos of underground stormwater vaults, some more than 100 years old and built by private citizens.

Stevenson estimates there are 10 miles of underground conveyance to rebuild. The problem is complicated by the fact that many are on private property, and the city has no legal right to access them without an easement. In addition, there is an estimated 32 miles of open channels to maintain.

Stormwater management is lacking in many areas of Hannibal. In some cases, it is more than just an inconvenience after a hard rain. Stevenson says over the past 5 years, a number of drains have partially collapsed, creating a potentially dangerous situation. One storm drain partially collapsed under a building. Hannibal BPW has been installing steel plates over sinkholes that have occurred due to collapsing drains. However, this is considered a temporary fix.

Stevenson says the Hannibal Board of Public Works can no longer spend sanitary sewer funds to fix stormwater failures. The city has spent nearly $600,000 on a number of large-scale projects in recent years.

Possible solutions suggested bring new sets of problems in the way of legal challenges. Those include requiring private landowners to make repairs, or increasing taxes or sanitary sewer charges. If the BPW were to fully tackle the issue, it could require creating a new stormwater utility division.

An appeal was made to engage the public in a dialogue to identify problems, analyze solutions, and discuss funding options. The City of Hannibal invites citizens to contact their council member, mayor or city manager with suggestions.