Terri Sewell, Doug Jones announce Public Health Fair to combat wastewater crisis

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Alabama’s two Congressional Democrats — 7th District U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell and Sen. Doug Jones — are teaming up to raise public awareness about the health consequences associated with failing septic systems and wastewater contamination. Together, they will host a Public Health Fair in Hayneville, Ala.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will also provide attendees safe and confidential health screenings.

“For struggling families in rural America, including those in Alabama’s rural Black Belt, deteriorating wastewater infrastructure has created a health crisis that is unacceptable for us to ignore as elected officials,” Sewell said. “In rural communities like Lowndes County, some residents don’t have proper access to primary health care services, where they can get screened and treated for conditions that arise from failing wastewater systems.”

Sewell continued, “Our upcoming public health fair will provide rural Alabamians with the tools and resources they need to keep their families and homes healthy. This public health fair is a necessary step in the right direction, designed to open lines of communication with health experts, community leaders, and rural families, and provide free and confidential health screenings to Lowndes County residents.”

The Public Health Fair will take place on Wednesday, May 30, from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. inside Lowndes Interpretive Center. Health services provided will include a wide array of screenings. Attendees will also learn more about resources available for assistance with properly installed septic systems.

“No one should have to live in a home where wastewater is straight-piped into their backyard, putting their families at risk for serious and costly health consequences,” Jones said. “Unfortunately, communities across rural Alabama are facing this public health crisis and it’s long overdue that they get the resources they need to make lasting progress. That’s why I’m proud to partner with my colleague Congresswoman Sewell to host this upcoming public health fair, which will give us an opportunity to hear directly from folks who are facing these challenges and help them keep their families safe and healthy.”

Experts suggest 60 percent of homes in some parts of rural Alabama drain wastewater without treatment from a septic system.1 Researchers from the University of Alabama estimate that more than 500,000 gallons of raw sewage enter rivers and streams in Alabama’s Black Belt each day.

Last week, Sewell along with Republican and Alabama 3rd District U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers introduced the bipartisan H.R. 5837: Rural Septic Tank Access Act on Wednesday, which provides grants for the construction and repair of decentralized wastewater systems in underserved communities. Jones is a co-sponsor of a companion bill in the Senate.

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