Environmental activist Erin Brockovich visits Hannibal to discus - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich visits Hannibal to discuss Prop. 1

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Environmental activist Erin Brockovich speaks on the issue of Hannibal's water quality at the American Legion hall on Wednesday night. Environmental activist Erin Brockovich speaks on the issue of Hannibal's water quality at the American Legion hall on Wednesday night.
Brockovich talks with WGEM's Gene Kennedy Brockovich talks with WGEM's Gene Kennedy
More than 100 people listened to Brockovich Monday night at the American Legion hall in Hannibal. More than 100 people listened to Brockovich Monday night at the American Legion hall in Hannibal.
Another view of Brockovich's speaking engagement Monday night. Another view of Brockovich's speaking engagement Monday night.
Kari Goodman, public relations with the Hannibal  Board of Public Works, speaks with WGEM's Gene Kennedy. HBPW says a 'yes' vote on Prop. 1 comes with some real concerns. Kari Goodman, public relations with the Hannibal Board of Public Works, speaks with WGEM's Gene Kennedy. HBPW says a 'yes' vote on Prop. 1 comes with some real concerns.

Celebrity environmental activist Erin Brockovich was in Hannibal on Monday night and her visit centered around questions over how the city treats its drinking water.

Brockovich encouraged voters to approve Proposition 1 in the upcoming election on April 4. Voter approval would ban the use of ammonia to treat Hannibal's water supply.

It's been a source of controversy for nearly two years. 

Brockovich told a crowd of more than 100 people at Hannibal's American Legion hall that chloramine, which is created using ammonia, is a problem in water supplies nationwide. 

"First and foremost, the reaction they have on their skin," Brockovich said. "It changes the taste. They don't like things like that. One of the worst things we see with ammonia being added are lead outbreaks."

If Prop. 1 passes, the Hannibal Board of Public Works would have 90 days to stop using ammonia to treat the city's drinking water, forcing BPW to revert back to chlorine.

Officials said it's a big concern.

"We would no longer be compliant with the federal Department of Natural Resources and what their limitations are, as far as what our disinfection byproducts are," BPW spokesperson Kari Goodman said.

BPW General Manager Bob Stevenson said a 'yes' vote on Prop. 1 would put BPW in the EPA's crosshairs and could result in financial penalties. 

BPW insists the city's drinking water is safe and meets EPA regulations. And its "Plan B" for treatment, GAC, or granuated action carbon, would take several years to implement and cost upwards of $10 million in equipment upgrades at Hannibal's water treatment plant.

BPW officials said residents could have to pay roughly an additional $8 on their monthly water bill. Stevenson said it could cost double that. BPW questions whether the GAC alternative would be enough for Hannibal to comply with federal requirements. 

"If we move to GAC, can we do that and still not have to feed chloramine and not have to feed ammonia into our drinking water?" Goodman asked. "That's the question that we have."

Brockovich thinks there are healthier alternatives to chloramine, such as chlorine.

"The reason they like to use ammonia is it's cheap. and they just throw it in there and they cut corners," she said.

Brokovich thinks Prop. 1 is democracy in action and voiced support for those taking a stand on the issue.

In 2016, the city hired an independent engineering firm to study alternative water treatment methods. You can read more on the results of that study here

Representatives with Jacobs engineering and Missouri Department of Natural Resources will discuss the details of the JACOBS report Wednesday night at 5:30 p.m. the Roland Fine Arts Center on the Hannibal La Grange University campus.  

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