Following acceptable water quality tests, the Hannibal Board of Public Works on Thursday afternoon lifted the city-wide mandatory boil order that had been in place since Monday.

Following acceptable water quality tests, the Hannibal Board of Public Works on Thursday afternoon lifted the city-wide mandatory boil order that had been in place since Monday.

The BPW officially announced the boil order was lifted at 4:20 p.m., just under 21 hours earlier than had been anticipated.

“Everything looks good,” said Heath Hall, director of operations for the BPW, regarding the bacteria testing done on water samples taken at 10 sites throughout the city’s water system on Wednesday.

When the boil order was originally announced Monday it was to have been lifted Wednesday. However, the decision was made to extend the boil order after water tests Tuesday revealed there were either very low levels of chlorine in the system, or none at all in some locations. Steps typically taken by the BPW to deal with low chlorine levels could not be taken because of low water levels in the city’s storage tanks.

On Wednesday, chlorine levels were found to be at acceptable levels at all test sites but near Hannibal Regional Hospital, which happens to be the farthest point in the city’s water system from the Water Filter Plant. To enhance chlorine levels in that area three fire hydrants were allowed to run near the hospital on Wednesday, to pull in chlorinated water from the Filter Plant. That process, known as “flushing,” was stopped sooner than expected, according to Hall.

“We were losing too much ground in the (water storage) tank,” he said.

However, water samples taken as the hydrants were being shut off showed an ample level of chlorine. Bacteria tests, which take 24 hours to run their course, revealed acceptable results both in the area of the hospital and throughout the city.

As one might expect, the BPW has been busy responding to questions posted on its Facebook page. One person asked how long it would take until the water in Ralls County would be safe to drink once the boil order was lifted. The BPW reported that the “water is safe to consume and use normally” after the order was cancelled.

“There is no delay once we give the notice,” responded the BPW.

News that the boil order has been lifted early will likely be applauded by some of the BPW’s industrial customers, who had stopped production once the boil order and request to conserve water was issued early in the week. According to Hall, while some companies resumed their work once the water conservation warning was cancelled Wednesday, some involved in food processing would wait until the boil order was lifted, too.

 

Filter Plant operations

 

Problems at the Filter Plant arose between 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday when an electric valve malfunctioned. The valve opened when it should have been closed, allowing the lower level of the Filter Plant, which is filled with an assortment of equipment necessary to process river water, to flood. Before the contents of a storage tank could be turned off, water was literally pouring out the doors of the Filter Plant.

Hall reports that operations are slowly returning to normal at the plant.

“Lots of equipment is up and running, although many valves are still being operated manually,” he said. “A lot of the monitoring equipment which got wet has been replaced.”

As for the large valve which initially malfunctioned, Hall reports the device itself is “fine,” but its electronic actuator will have to be replaced.

“We’re still dealing with insurance and waiting for parts to come in,” he said.