Resident asks Hannibal City Council to pick up the tab for sewer repair

Posted: Aug. 19, 2014 11:07 pm Updated: Sep. 2, 2014 11:15 pm
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

HANNIBAL, Mo. — One of at least 16 residents found to have an illegal sewer line hookup asked the Hannibal City Council on Tuesday to consider footing the bill to reconnect his line, but the council suggested he work further with a contractor and city staff before it makes a decision.

Harold Lain of 611 Grand Avenue said a backup led city crews to discover his line was discharging sewage into a storm sewer on the south edge of his property, rather than into a sanitary sewer as required by law. The city learned in February that similar cases — some decades old — had popped up in other parts of Hannibal, and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources mandated the city remedy the issue.

Many of the issues were discovered on Virginia, Hope and Chestnut streets. Lain noted that illicit connections had been uncovered and rerouted during reconstruction of Grand Avenue, but due to Lain's location, his was not one of them. He asked the council to weigh covering the cost of the project, as his bad connection had not been detected. He added that reconnecting his sewer line would require digging 12 feet down, among other issues, making it an expensive undertaking.

The city has offered a five-year rebate program to help residents with the cost of the repairs. If an owner repairs the connection and brings the bill to the BPW, the city will refund the amount it had charged for five years.

Lain, who said he is retired and on a fixed income, proposed extending the city's offer to rebate five years of sewer service charges to residents with illegal discharges in hopes of easing the burden on them.

“They ought to go back more than five years,” he said. “Mine's going to cost quite a bit. It's not going to be an easy job.”

City Manager Jeff LaGarce said Lain's sewer line was not involved in the Grand Avenue project, because his line connects to a storm sewer outside the project area. He added the Board of Public Works selected the five-year limit since, by law, the city has to have that information on file for at least that amount of time.

LaGarce posed having the city cut and repair the street to decrease the project cost and suggested Lain collaborate with a contractor to have the work bid fall within the amount of the rebate.

He said after the meeting that the city has done what it can to make the repairs “palatable” for affected residents, adding that if the lines are not redirected, the city could face a $20,000 to $40,000 fine.

“The DNR does not play around,” he said.

LaGarce said as of two weeks ago, two out of 16 identified illegal hookups had been fixed. The city will issue citations to those not in compliance.