Contact: Kari Goodman
Tel: (573) 231-7116
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 18, 2017 – Hannibal, MO – Mr. Randy Park, President of the Board of Directors for the Hannibal Board of Public Works (HBPW or the Board), today announced that the Board has filed a lawsuit in Marion County Circuit Court seeking a temporary restraining order to enjoin enforcement of Hannibal Ordinance 4751 which had been proposed as Proposition 1 through the initiative process provided for by the Hannibal City Charter.
The Board is the division of city government that is responsible to operate the public drinking water system. Currently, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has authorized the Board to dispense drinking water that is disinfected through a process which includes the addition of ammonia in the form of ammonium sulfate. Mr. Park advised that “DNR gave the Board written approval to add ammonium sulfate solution on November 4, 2015.”
Proposition 1, which was approved and adopted by the Hannibal City Council on May 16, 2017, prohibits the “administration, dosing, feeding or use of ammonia in the Public Drinking Water System.” The Board notified the Department of Natural Resources of its intent to cease the use of ammonia in its disinfection process. On May 30, 2017, the Department of Natural Resources notified the Board that the department cannot approve HBPW’s request to cease the introduction of ammonia into its drinking water system.” Department of Natural Resource regulations require department approval to make “modifications to its existing treatment process.” Consequently, the Department of Natural Resources wrote that it “cannot approve a request to modify a treatment process until a water system submits a plan that proposes an alternative treatment process.” To do so would violate the Missouri Safe Drinking Water Law and subject the Board to enforcement.
On May 8, 2017, the HBPW Board of Directors held a special meeting to discuss and approve the Chloramine Replacement Alternative Evaluation proposal submitted by Black & Veatch Engineers. The proposal indicated that bench scale testing would not be complete until December 2017. After the bench testing, Black & Veatch would prepare a Preliminary Design Report for DNR approval. Upon DNR’s approval, the Board would negotiate with engineering firms a contract to design or design-build the modifications to the water treatment plant. Upon DNR approval of the detailed design submission, the Board would bid out the project and construction would begin. After construction, DNR would inspect and give approval to operate the water treatment system as modified. This whole process will take two or more years to complete.
Mr. Park explained, “If the Board removes the ammonia from the disinfection process as required by Proposition 1, Board members could be subject to prosecution and fines and penalties for violation of state environmental statutes and regulations. Also, certified operators that directly manage the treatment system will be subject to suspension or revocation of their certifications from DNR. On the other hand, if the Board complies with state statutes and refuses to remove the ammonia from the treatment process, Board members and employees operating the water treatment and distribution system will be subject to municipal fines or penalties. The Board and its employees are subject to fines or penalties whether they enforce the ordinance or not and the ordinance is unjust.”
The lawsuit seeks a ruling declaring the ordinance invalid and unenforceable because it is in direct conflict with state law, among other reasons alleged in the petition. Hearing on the request for a temporary restraining order is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Friday, August 4, 2017.
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