To: HBPW Water Customers
I feel compelled to respond to the allegations related to the quality of Hannibal’s water and the so called lack of transparency by the Hannibal Board of Public Works.
We have learned that when we have jumped the gun in the past offering up explanations of events before the MoDNR is ready, we can start a small civil panic and our customers and the community do not benefit from this.
It is important to understand the process which the HBPW is required to follow when something abnormal happens within the water system. These processes are tightly defined and controlled by our state regulators. The HBPW is held to some pretty high standards by the MoDNR with respect to water quality. When an event happens, we notify the MoDNR immediately, and they tell us the proper response, which varies due to the circumstances.
Some situations may require the immediate shutdown of the water plant to avoid contamination of our water system. This has never happened in Hannibal. Some situations may require a fast response by us short of a shutdown. For instance, loss of system pressure would require an immediate public notice of a boil order, such as a water main break. Other situations require less urgent responses and the MoDNR determines our response based upon the nature of the problem. The less urgency required, the more time passes before they decide what the appropriate response should be.
We had an event at the Water Treatment Plant that was immediately reported to the MoDNR. The event happened in October and we are still awaiting the MoDNR recommendation of the details of our public reporting. We expect it any day now. The event did not trigger a plant shutdown or a boil order or any other form of drastic action on our part. There will be a public report sent to every water customer. It will be detailed and written in language only lawyers can appreciate. Unfortunately, it is designed on purpose to embarrass or shame us into working harder to avoid a repetition, which we are doing.
The systems of regulation and public reporting set up by the MoDNR have served us well for decades, and we will continue to follow them. We have no evidence that anyone at MoDNR or at the HBPW is covering up anything.
Robert W. Stevenson, P.E.
“The mission of the Hannibal Board of Public Works is to provide safe, reliable utility products with excellent customer service at reasonable prices.”