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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Hannibal water test violates state standards

  • The Hannibal Board of Public Works could face a fine after a water test earlier this year revealed significantly higher-than-acceptable levels of a disinfection by-product. The Missouri Department of Resources’ (DNR) notice of violation was received earlier this week at the BPW’s headquarters.


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  • The Hannibal Board of Public Works could face a fine after a water test earlier this year revealed significantly higher-than-acceptable levels of a disinfection by-product. The Missouri Department of Resources’ (DNR) notice of violation was received earlier this week at the BPW’s headquarters.
    The test, which was conducted in September, revealed trihalomethane (THM) levels that were approximately four times higher than those typically seen in the city’s water system. A THM is the resulting by-product when chlorine reacts with organic materials that are so tiny the water plant’s filters can’t catch them, according to Bob Stevenson, general manager of the BPW.
    Does the unusually THM high level represent an immediate health concern for consumers? According to information provided by the DNR, a person would have to drink two liters of water every day for 70 years containing elevated levels of THM before they would face an increased risk of cancer.
    In January, the BPW will be mailing out a notice to its customers about the test results. Because September’s test results were so high it will skew the city’s test results for the next year, since a community’s compliance standard is based on a rolling annual average. Stevenson says the BPW may be sending out additional notices each quarter in 2012.
    That high average could eventually lead to a fine.
    “Because this spike was so big and our average is not that much below the limit anyway, our rolling average is going to be violated for four quarters and if it goes into the fourth quarter then it’s possible the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) will get involved and there is a threat of a fine. If that happens we can’t do anything about it at this point except beg for mercy,” said Stevenson.
    Regular tests
    Water tests for disinfection by-products are conducted quarterly by the DNR. Samples are submitted by cities to the DNR, which forwards them on to their lab. Samples must be taken from different points at the end of the water system.
    According to Stevenson, about the time the state water samples were taken the city took samples as part of a disinfection by-product study a consulting engineer company has been conducting in behalf of the BPW for the past six months.
    “We took some THM samples and sent them to a lab to help the consulting engineer company with its work and they came back with what we would call normal THM levels,” said Stevenson. “We had that spike, but we know it came back down.”
    Even before the high THM was recorded, the BPW was already looking for ways to lessen the amount of disinfection by-products in the city’s water in anticipation of new water-quality regulations in 2013.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We’re probably looking at a water treatment plant upgrade before we’re done. We just don’t know how big yet,” said Stevenson.
    Hannibal is not alone in regard to a spike in its THM level. According to the DNR, it has taken enforcement action against over 100 Missouri cities for the same violation.
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