HANNIBAL, Mo. -- A final settlement in the class-action lawsuit against Hannibal and the Hannibal Board of Public Works over alleged water-quality violations was approved Aug. 24.
The BPW and the city officially agreed to commit a minimum of $5 million to improve the water treatment system, and a minimum $205,000 settlement fund has been established to reimburse ratepayers who submit a valid claim for out-of-pocket costs for medical testing designed to aid in the early detection of certain medical conditions associated with the ingestion of disinfection byproducts created when disinfecting drinking water with chloramine. Medical testing must be done by Oct. 23.
Also approved was awarding $4,000 to each of the class representatives: O.C. Latta, Crystal Stephens, Christine Stolte and Vickie Brooks, all Hannibal residents.
The lawsuit was filed by Latta, Stephens, Stolte and Brooks in Marion County Circuit Court in March 2016, and the four sought punitive and compensatory damages for Hannibal residents who have paid for and used water supplied by the BPW for at least three years between September 2011 and February 2016. The case was moved to St. Louis in May 2016.
The lawsuit did not specifically address the BPW's use of chloramines to disinfect drinking water, but the group alleged that the BPW was negligent for supplying water "unfit for human use" because of elevated levels of total trihalomethanes, a disinfection byproduct, during that time.
The BPW has already made headway on improving its water treatment system. In April, the BPW board approved a granulated activated carbon water filtration system that will cost $14.35 million to install. It's scheduled to be operating by March 2020. Hannibal voters approved a $17.5 million bond issue Aug. 7 to pay for the new filtration system.
More information on who is eligible for compensation is at HannibalWaterLawsuitSettlement.com.