HBPW Board to choose between two options

When the Hannibal Board of Public Works (HBPW) Board makes its choice for what will be the city's next water filtration system, its decision will be based on an assortment of information and different opinions. Among the voices board members have listened to are those of Ron Conger, chief water treatment plant operator, and George Hausdorg, water treatment and wastewater treatment supervisor.

In January, Conger offered written insights regarding granular activated carbon (GAC) which along with reverse osmosis (RO) are the finalists in the water system derby.

“I have confidence this will take care of the DBPs (disinfection byproducts) and provide good, quality water for the city,” he said regarding GAC.

However, Conger expressed concerns regarding GAC looking into the future.

“My thought is that in the future the cost of operation may increase at a higher rate than is anticipated due to what new regulations may come and the future cost with carbon replacement,” he said. “Although this is relatively simple to operate with the quality operators we have I don't see operations as a problem. If the TTHM (trihalomethanes) are reduced by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) from 80 to 60 the operational costs of this system will increase by 25 percent.”

Conger's preference is the RO option.

“I think this is our best option because it will not only take care of the issue we are dealing with now, but it will also take care of any future issue due to changing regulations and source-water quality. I have confidence in this doing what we want for now and in the future,” he said. “Although the operations will be a little more challenging the operational cost will be lower and again we have quality operators. Also I feel that the operational cost will not increase at a higher rate. Advances in membrane filtration continue to improve and the pricing continues to lower. I feel when new regulations come we will be able to meet them with this type of treatment.”

Hausdorg offered that a major factor behind the board's decision has to be dollars and cents.

“It is my opinion that operation and maintenance costs need to help drive our decision,” he said. “We have no control over the cost of GAC which could include transportation, labor, product, disposal, environmental fees, fuel surcharges, etc., we do have some control over electric costs which is the major multiplier when considering RO.”

The future costs of GAC concern Hausdorg.

“The current GAC market has room for our water treatment plant to easily fit into the supply chain,” he said. “As the use of GAC continues to develop, I fear other industries which could use much more volume than us may increase the demand on supply, causing unforeseen astronomical increases. We have seen this already happening in the powdered activated carbon market.”

Hausdorg offered concern over the use of new technology.

“As proven by the lack of facilities using GAC, it is still too early, in my opinion, to jump into this technology,” he said. “While GAC has proven its efficiency in smaller and in home applications, ours being the largest facility to attempt this process at this scale in Missouri concerns me. I am not afraid of technological advancements, but I have never been a fan of being serial number 001.”

Like Conger, Hausdorg offered an endorsement for RO.

“Both processes provide the ability to meet all pollutants of concern we are aware of in the immediate future, but if any of the current regulations were to tighten up, I believe that RO has a much better chance at allowing us to continue being in compliance,” he said.


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