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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • City threatening legal action against property owners with illegal sewer hookups

  • The city of Hannibal is threatening legal action against property owners, whose raw sewage was found to be flowing into a storm water system, rather than the sanitary sewer system.
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  • The city of Hannibal is threatening legal action against property owners, whose raw sewage was found to be flowing into a storm water system, rather than the sanitary sewer system.
    According to Joey Burnham, city building inspector, only two of 16 locations identified earlier this year have corrected the problem to date. In April, the city sent out letters advising the property owners they had 90 days to fix the situation, which in some cases may have existed for a century.
    Burnham says the city’s approach will be to give the property owners a “few more days” before the city takes “legal action.”
    According to Bob Stevenson, general manager of the BPW, the city is taking the lead in getting these individuals into compliance with city and state regulations.
    “The city has an ordinance on the books as required by state law that basically prohibits raw sewage discharge into the storm water drainage system. It is that ordinance that is being violated so the city is responsible to get it corrected. They will be the ‘sewer police’ in these cases,” he said.
    “The Hannibal Board of Public Works is involved in this only at the edges,” Stevenson added. “We performed the investigation to determine which houses were not properly connected to the sanitary system. We provided that information to the Building Inspector’s office. We may have helped draft a letter to customers. We stood by while the city staff delivered the letters to affected property owners. The Board approved a cash assistance program based on length of ownership, amounts paid for sewer service over the last five years. The Board’s work is done except for inspecting the new taps to the sewer mains.”
    While the cost of having the work done can run into the thousands of dollars, Burnham says that in most cases the BPW’s five-year sewer charge refund will cover the expense.
    “That’s why it’s so unbelievable that it’s not been done,” he said.
     
    Initial complaint
     
    The issue arose on Feb. 11 when a complaint regarding the situation was made by a non-resident of the community,
    Approximately three weeks later the city and BPW received letters of inquiry from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources regarding the individual's sewer complaint.
    The state required the BPW to verify the sewer connections of residences in an area that included Hope, Chestnut, Grace and Virginia streets.
    According to the BPW, its investigation turned up approximately a dozen residences with sanitary sewer laterals that are connected directly into a storm sewer. Two other residences were found to have failing septic systems.
    Page 2 of 2 - City code requires that such issues be remedied by property owners within 90 days of notification.
    To help defray the costs, the BPW Board in March approved a "rebate" program to homeowners or property owners of the affected residences. Because these households have been paying sewer fees for years, assuming their sewage was being properly disposed of, the BPW will refund the sewer fees paid it from these residences during the past five years. Rebates were not offered to the households with septic systems.
    The rebate program includes some stipulations. The funds will be given to the owner of the property, even if a renter has been paying the monthly sewer fee. The total amount being rebated cannot exceed the cost of the connection.

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