We support the proposed changes to the ordinance. City council should adopt these proposed changes with haste at its next available opportunity.

Hannibal’s controversy over the implementation of a citizen-generated ordinance banning ammonia as a disinfectant in the city’s water system had its day in court this week. Although not much came from that court date, we learned that the city will propose revisions to the ordinance that has cause so much consternation with the Board of Public Works.

We support the proposed changes to the ordinance. City council should adopt these proposed changes with haste at its next available opportunity.

The changes still preserve the will of the people to remove ammonia from the drinking water system, provides greater oversight and protects water system employees of the BPW.

Of chief importance, the proposed changes respect the intent of the original ordinance. In April, 1,259 Hannibal voters supported the removal of ammonia with a “yes” vote on Proposition 1 (894 voted “no”).

The April vote clearly demonstrated the desire of registered voters to remove ammonia as a disinfectant in favor of an alternative method. The revised ordinance wouldn’t change that.

What it does change is the timeframe from 90 days to more than two-and-a-half years.

What has been easily overlooked is the Board’s opinion on the removal of ammonia: they’ve publicly said they’re willing to make water system conversions the public wants. But those types of changes just weren’t feasible under the parameters of the original ordinance. Extending the timeframe allows the BPW to avoid fines and fully develop an acceptable alternative.

Whereas the original ordinance did not provide oversight to the development of a new system, the new ordinance wisely includes a provision requiring quarterly updates. This part of the ordinance allows citizens to be actively engaged (although, BPW board meetings are another option) in the conversion process and provides an extra layer of accountability for the BPW, having to directly report to city council.

Lastly, if the BPW adhered to the original ordinance and shut off the ammonia feed without an alternative in place, that could have put at risk the licenses of the water plant operators. By revising the ordinance, the operators aren’t put into a difficult position that could have long-term personal ramifications and potential license removal.

When comparing the two ordinances, the revised version is an acceptable compromise.