One month after passage of Proposition 1 HBPW to host strategy meeting.

Just over a month after Hannibal voters decided to stop the use of chloramines - a mixture of chlorine and ammonia - in the city's water disinfection process, a strategy session on how best to proceed will be hosted by the Hannibal Board of Public Works (HBPW) on Monday, May 8.

The meeting comes as no surprise. Only hours after the outcome of the April 4 vote was known, Bob Stevenson, general manager of the HBPW, indicated that such a gathering would be convened.

“We are assembling a team of advisors qualified to give good advice that includes lawyers and engineers. We will meet, discuss, research and report to the (HBPW) Board before any decisions on any action happens,” said Stevenson.

Proposition 1 gives the HBPW 90 days to discontinue the use of chloramines and implement a new process that produces results acceptable to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MoDNR) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, because the time frame to convert to a new treatment process is estimated to be “four to five years,” Stevenson explained in a memo to the HBPW Board that the HBPW's “staff is unsure how to do that while still remaining compliant with EPA and MoDNR regulations.”

In last month's memo, Stevenson said the advisory team would include an “environmental lawyer, a labor lawyer, the lawyer handling our current class action lawsuit, our Board attorney, our insurance carrier, a professional engineer with water treatment expertise, as well as cognizant staff.”

On Friday morning, Stevenson reported that “our group of advisors consists of five lawyers from different specialties plus a professional engineer.”

That it's taken this long to organize such a meeting is not surprising. In April, Stevenson advised the HBPW Board that it could take until mid-May to stage the gathering “due to the busy schedules of those invited.”

The strategy session will take place in closed session, according to Stevenson. Based on the agenda of a specially-called meeting on Monday, May 8, that will take place in advance of the advisors meeting, the closed session is allowable under Missouri Sunshine Law in order to discuss litigation.

While the strategy session will occur behind closed doors, during the open portion of the meeting an engineering services contract will be up for consideration that relates to water plant improvements that will be necessary as a result of Proposition 1's passage.

If the proposed engineering services agreement is approved, Black and Veatch (B&V) Engineers would provide all the services that are needed to develop a treatment plan that is pilot tested and approved by MoDNR, cost estimates and construction schedules adequate to develop financing plans.

B&V's fee will be “about $220,000,” according to a memo from Stevenson. He also noted that the fee “represents about 25 percent of the engineering costs for the complete project. The design and construction phase will consume the balance of the engineering budget and will be awarded after financing is approved sometime in 2019.”

The open-to-the-public portion of Monday's special meeting will begin at 3 p.m. in the HBPW Conference Room at 3 Industrial Loop Dr.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com