Hannibal’s Water Debate Comes Full Circle
Hannibal’s drinking water controversy flowed from the courtroom to where it all began—city council chambers.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the Hannibal City Council gave first reading to a bill prohibiting the use of ammonia in the water disinfection process. The bill’s language is similar to Proposition 1 which was approved by voters in April.
The bill is in response to a suit filed by the Board of Public Works attempting to set aside the referendum and the 90 day deadline to remove ammonia. The Safe Drinking Water Chemical Use Reduction Act retains the requirement that ammonia be removed. However, it gives BPW two years from completion of a pilot study to implement conversion to an alternative disinfection process. The pilot study which is already underway is expected to be complete in the spring of 2018.
Kellie Cookson addressed the council as a citizen who spearheaded the efforts to remove ammonia. Cookson challenged the estimated time to complete the conversion process. She stated it was her belief alternative disinfection methods suggested in engineering studies could shorten the conversion time to 6 months.
After two councilmen (Kevin Knickerbocker and Michael Dobson) argued a 9-month pilot study plus two years was necessary, Cookson said two years total might be a reasonable compromise. She also said she finds it incredible the BPW filed suit against its parent entity, the City of Hannibal.
BPW General Manager Bob Stevenson gave a power point presentation on the conversion. One of the recommended alternative methods of water purification is GAC (Granulated Activated Carbon). While a pilot study using GAC has begun, data from similar municipal water systems are nonexistent. Stevenson told the council there are currently no post-filter GAC systems being used in Missouri, according to MoDNR. He also said there is no GAC being used in any state along the Mississippi or Missouri Rivers. While the ultimate goal is removal of ammonia, Stevenson said there are no guarantees this will happen unless alternative methods meet DNR approval.
In other business, the council:
• Gave First Reading to a Bill setting the property tax rate for 2017. The proposed levy is $1.2055 per $100 assessed value compared to $1.1577 last year.
• Approved a public hearing to be held September 5 in council chambers regarding the former St. Elizabeth’s Hospital Building at 109 Virginia. Belmont Development Company is requesting the property be rezoned from business to multiple family.
• Two resolutions regarding the Board of Public Works are approved: One endorses the new BPW Safety Manual; the second approves the BPW Emergency Response Plan.
•The sport of fishing will be enhanced at Huckleberry Park after council action. An engineering design contract for $15,800 is approved with Klingner and Associates regarding renovations to Huckleberry Park Pond. Parks and Rec Director Andy Dorian told the council the improvements include increasing the depth and width of the pond, replacing the outlet pipe, and constructing a handicap accessible dock. Dorian says the improvements will allow the pond to be regularly stocked with fish and allow for community fishing events. He said the renovations will nicely complement improvements recently made to the shelter, playground, and softball field at the park. A placeholder of $150,000 for the project has already been inserted into the budget.
• City Clerk Angel Zerbonia received approval to destroy additional city records. At the August 1 meeting, the council approved spending $350 for shredding services. Zerbonia says additional review has increased the number of records eligible for destruction by 30 boxes, which will increase the shredding costs above the original cost.
• A Second and Final reading was given to a bill amending the Police and Fire Retirement Fund Disability Benefits by transferring risk management to a third party insurance company.
• Second and Final reading was given to a bill vacating the Cruikshank Alley near Rockcliffe Mansion.