Wastewater project moves to second phase

Published 11:43 pm Sunday, December 3, 2023

The second phase of a project designed to address the wastewater crisis across Black Belt communities is in the works thanks to a hefty grant allocation. 

Carmelita Arnold, President of Lowndes County Unincorporated Wastewater Program (LCUWP) said that grant funding comes from two sources which share a similar goal – to support communities while aiding them with basic needs.

“The funding is from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH),” Arnold said. “There is one request for proposal (RFP) out for Lowndes County alone, and one for the Black Belt that excludes Lowndes County. It’s to install septic systems to address all of the things that the Department of Justice (DOJ) saw regarding septic system issues.”

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According to Ron Dawsey, the director of the Bureau of Environmental Services at ADPH, the grant funding will be used to cover a portion of the costs associated with correcting the ongoing wastewater issue in Lowndes County and other Black Belt communities.

“The funding is part of an overall funding allocation and part of it comes from the health department,” Dawsey said. “What we do with that is contract with someone to oversee installations of septic systems. The money is specifically to address wastewater issues, some in Lowndes County specifically, and some in the Black Belt in general.”

Dawsey further explained how the project works, and the main goal of the project.

“The main goal is to correct wastewater issues and get sewage off the ground,” Dawsey said. “What we will do is hire a contractor who will basically represent the homeowner. The funding will be used to do soil tests, because the type of system that goes in depends on the type of soil where the home is located, and then it will also pay for the installation of a septic system.” 

Dawsey said that while there is currently an ongoing project with a contractor in Lowndes County, there is an additional request for proposals that went out last week which will serve as a second part of the project. Individuals or organizations who would like to submit a bid for the proposal can do so by visiting the State of Alabama Accounting and Resource System (STAARS) vendor website at https://vendors.alabama.gov/.