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Petition pressures Tuscaloosa city government to fix sewage leaks in the community

John Wathen, Hurricane Creekkeeper

Two Alabama environmental groups are urging the city of Tuscaloosa leaders, including Mayor Walt Maddox and the city council, to stop sewage spills happening across the Druid City.

Nelson Brooke, Black Warrior Riverkeeper

Black Warrior Riverkeeper and Friends of Hurricane Creek are Alabama nonprofits and clean water advocacy groups. They two organizations shave started a petition in hopes that action will be taken. Organizers say decades worth of wastewater leaks have been spilling, flowing into Tuscaloosa waterways. This is the same case for roadways and yards in the Druid City. The groups warn this continues to threaten public health.

“The city of Tuscaloosa has really just had a hard time properly transporting and treating sewage for decades,” said Black Warrior Riverkeeper Nelson Brooke. “That has resulted in a lot of raw or untreated sewage and industrial chemical wastewater spills throughout the Tuscaloosa area.”

John Wathen, Hurricane Creekkeeper

The organizers of the petition said that approximately 42 million gallons of untreated sewage have spilled into Tuscaloosa streets, yards and streams since 2018. The online petition says most of these sewage spills flow into streams people swim, paddle and fish in. This includes Hurricane Creek, Cypress Creek, Cottondale Creek and the Black Warrior River.

Black Warrior Riverkeeper and Friends of Hurricane Creek organizers also said the city of Tuscaloosa’s own reports show more than 350 illegal raw sewage overflows and more than 1,000 wastewater discharge permit violations in the past five years.

Brooke and his team say they hope as that more Alabamians sign the petition, more attention will be brought to this ongoing issue.

“The goal is public awareness, hopefully leading to more public pressure on the city of Tuscaloosa mayor and city council to take this issue very seriously,” he explained.

Organizers warn the spills not only include raw sewage, but it also contains industrial wastewater from local industries that can be especially harmful.

“Untreated sewage is going to be whatever's going down toilets and sinks and showers at people's homes and businesses all over Tuscaloosa, but it also contains industrial wastewater from a lot of industries that are located in the area,” said Brooke. “So, when the sewage spills, it is a serious public health threat, not just for people and pets, but for livestock and wildlife.”

The two environmental groups had previously filed an intent to sue against the city of Tuscaloosa under the Clean Water Act, but that resulted in a lawsuit between the state of Alabama and the Druid City.

To learn more about the petition or to sign, click here.



Hannah Holcombe is a student intern at the Alabama Public Radio newsroom. She is a Sophomore at the University of Alabama and is studying news media. She has a love for plants, dogs and writing. She hopes to pursue a career as a reporter.
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