ADPH works toward solutions for wastewater crisis

Published 4:49 pm Sunday, September 10, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) urges Lowndes County Residents to work together with them to correct a growing problem in the area: inadequate disposal of wastewater.

According to ADPH, many septic systems are not designed to be compatible with Blackbelt soil which does not properly drain wastewater away from homes, a situation which can cause residents to become sick due to the exposure to raw sewage.

During a meeting of the Lowndes County Commission on Aug. 14, Deputy Director of Environmental Services for ADPH Ronald Dawsey said that a website has been set up for residents to report problems with their septic systems and the issues they are dealing with as a result.

Email newsletter signup

“What we’re doing with this is getting a queue for people who are interested in some improvement in their system,” Dawsey said. “Then we’ll have it available when we get funding in the future.”

Raw sewage can contain bacteria, viruses, parasites and worms which can cause stomach, intestine, and liver illnesses including parasitic infections as well as Hepatitis A. Symptoms of illnesses caused by germs and parasites found in raw sewage can include diarrhea, fever, cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, weakness, or loss of appetite.

In a partnership with the Department of Justice, ADPH has agreed to take immediate action to help low income families in the Lowndes County area who cannot pay to put in a functioning septic system, cannot afford to fix one, are not on a municipal sanitation system (sewer), and are concerned hey will be fined by a judge or face jail time, lose their property, or heir personal information will be shared.

Also during the meeting, Bernestine Taylor discussed plans for the UAB Health Management Program Symposium on Oct. 19 which will be sponsored by the Alabama Rural Water and Wastewater Management Consortium and the ADPH. The focus of this symposium will be to discuss education and solutions to the water and wastewater equity crisis of the Alabama Black Belt. 

Residents who are interested in applying for assistance in improving their septic system through ADPH can visit the Lowndes County Septic System program web page to view news released from ADPH, download their mailout letter, and submit an application.