USA working on sewage solutions in Alabama’s Black Belt

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Researchers with the University of Alabama and other schools are teaming up to tackle a messy problem in Alabama’s black belt. For decades the multi-county region just to our north has had inadequate wastewater treatment. The sewage inevitably ends up in waterways close to home. In Greene County Alabama, it’s easy to find someone worried about the water.

“For anyone to come here and help us with the issues we have here Greene County, especially the water,” said resident Jacqueline Allen talking to our sister station WIAT. The help is coming in part from the University of South Alabama. USA is taking the lead in a pilot program to study sewage problems and solutions.

“There may be as much as 3,400,000 gallons of raw sewage being put out onto the ground every day in the black belt region,” said USA Professor Dr. Kevin White. [The region] can’t develop economically. No business or industry will locate in an area that doesn’t have the infrastructure for wastewater management.” Dr. White and others will study building a small-scale wastewater treatment facility. This one is planned for Newburn, Alabama in Hale County. If successful it could spread to other parts of the country.

“Native American Tribal lands out west, Alaska, Hawaii, Appalachia these places where we have sanitary and wastewater conditions that are not appropriate and may be a threat to public health,” said Dr. White. While the project is hundreds of miles away, the wastewater in the blackbelt trickles down to us.

“Everything that lands on land up there comes down and into our waterways,” said Casi Callaway with Mobile Baykeeper. “You’re looking at a smaller population but a population that is just like any other if you don’t have sewage and you don’t treat your sewage it is going directly into waterways.” Work on the USA project begins in December.

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