A study of water purification alternatives for Hannibal’s drinking water is now temporarily on hold. The Hannibal City Council previously voted on September 20 to contact the engineering firm Black and Veach for a quote for conducting a study. The intent was to engage an independent third party having no ties to the city or the citizens group pushing for removal of chloramines from the water supply.

However, it was learned after the September 20th meeting that the Hannibal BPW had retained Black and Veach for a project in 2012.

The council decided to table the issue during the October 4 meeting. City Manager Jeff LaGarce says although Black and Veach is highly respected in the area of water purification, the search will continue for a firm that has absolutely no ties to the parties involved. LaGarce says he has 9 or 10 other firms to evaluate. He hopes to bring a recommendation to the next council meeting October 18.

Citizen Dennis Kolarik addressed the council on the water issue. Kolarik said he believed the council knew the city had done business with Black and Veach previously. Both City Manager LaGarce and Councilman Mike Dobson denied that allegation. Kolarik suggested the city work with water quality expert Robert Bowcock to find an engineering firm agreeable with both parties. Bowcock is from California and has visited Hannibal a couple of times on behalf of the citizens pushing for removal of chloramines as a disinfectant. The group cites health concerns as its primary reason for removing chloramines.

Hannibal switched to chloramines—a mixture of chlorine and ammonia-- in 2015. The change was made after DNR cited the city for excessive disinfection byproduct levels from use of chlorine alone.

One of the alternative disinfection methods embraced by the citizens group is GAC (Granulated Activated Charcoal). The study is being proposed to determine the cost of converting to GAC and the effect on water rates in the city.

Hannibal voters will go to the polls in the spring to vote on the water issue. Proposition 1, also called the Hannibal Safe Drinking Water Chemical Use Reduction Act, will appear on the municipal ballot in April, 2017.

In other council business:

  • Diane Addison of Hannibal Parents as Teachers presented the staff of Parks and Recreation with an award for partnering with PAT on educational projects such as the storybook trail.
  • Citizen Alan Bowen of the Save the Marina organization addressed the council regarding the plan to remove the marina as part of the riverfront renovation.  Bowen presented a profit matrix with numbers he said shows the marina made a profit.  The plan approved by the council would remove the marina and turn the area into a park.  The city maintains keeping the marina is not cost effective.
  • Brian Chaplain received approval to purchase two new zero-turn mowers for the Street Dept.  The lone bid from Sydenstrickers came in at $8965 each.  Mayor Hark suggested since $26,000 was budgeted for the mowers, Chaplain should see if three can be purchased.  The council approved the purchase of three if the bidder will accept $26,000.  Council Van Hoose voted no, stating if only two were needed originally, the extra money could be better used elsewhere.
  • A proposal to abandon an alley on Hubbard Street was voted down by the council. Councilman Dobson voted in favor.  Councilman Van Hoose, Locke, and Mayor Hark voted NO.  The issue was approved by the council on June 21 but additional information surfaced ,including the fact that the property description was incorrect.  The Planning and Zoning Commisson voted against the proposal back on May 19 for other reasons.  Resident Bill Schneider had requested the abandonment.  Adjacent property owners Russell and Dorothy Tobin were against the request and had consulted an attorney.  Tobin's attorney discovered the discrepancy and requested the proposal be resubmitted.