The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a $23.4 million grant to address an ongoing wastewater treatment crisis in Uniontown, Ala. USDA will work with the municipality to create an outside board which will oversee the development of a new wastewater system for Uniontown residents.
Alabama 7th District U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell calls the grant “a huge victory” for Uniontown.
“Today’s grant announcement is a huge victory for Uniontown that will have a real-life impact for thousands of Alabamians living in the rural Black Belt,” said Sewell. “No American family should have to live without access to safe wastewater treatment in the 21st Century. I have met with families in rural Alabama who struggle with the health and economic challenges created by failing wastewater systems. Every day, their stories inspire my fight in Congress for stronger investments in our wastewater infrastructure. USDA’s assistance in Uniontown is an important step forward, but the wastewater crisis facing Alabama’s rural Black Belt is not over. We must continue fighting for Uniontown, Lowndes County, and all of our state’s residents who have to live with inadequate basic resources.”
For over a decade, failing wastewater infrastructure has created enormous health and economic challenges for communities in rural Alabama. Since 2016, the issue has received national and international attention, with the release of a United Nations-sponsored report this year highlighting the failure of wastewater infrastructure in Alabama’s rural Black Belt.
Alabama’s senior U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby helped lead the efforts to secure the funding. Along with Sewell, he was joined by U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, Alabama 4th District U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt and USDA State Rural Development Director Chris Beeker.
“Water and wastewater systems across the country are aging, overburdened, and in need of replacement,” said Shelby. “Failure to invest in these water projects has devastating economic and public health consequences. The dire situation in Uniontown is a prime example of a number of communities across Alabama in need of upgrades and repairs. I am proud to have led the efforts to create momentum for this project, and I would like to thank USDA for providing this critical funding. I remain committed to fighting for these greatly needed resources to combat our state’s growing infrastructure needs.”
The USDA grant
This $23,437,500 USDA Rural Development grant for Uniontown will enable a major infrastructure redesign and rehabilitation. The project will include construction of an interconnection between the city of Uniontown and the city of Demopolis which will pump wastewater to Demopolis for treatment.
Once this collection system is operational, the treatment of wastewater through the city of Uniontown’s existing lagoon and spray field system will be eradicated. The lagoons and spray field serving the city of Uniontown will be decommissioned and reclaimed, which will eliminate wastewater overflow and assist the city to better comply with environmental regulatory requirements.
Approximately 2,810 customers in the city of Uniontown and the surrounding area are served by this wastewater system.