Black Belt Citizens & Allies Unite to Fight for Human Rights: Clean Water & Sanitation Now!

Date: 
Mon Aug 15, 2016 - 2:00pm EDT
Location: 
128 Water Street
Uniontown, AL 36786
United States

WHAT: Black Belt Citizens (BBC) and US Human Rights Network present:
In a time of crisis with violence, poverty & pollution, Black Belt Citizens have a solution: We Will Unite​ to​ Fight​ for our Human Rights--​ Clean Water and Working Sanitation Now​!​

Featuring a community tour, solidarity action with BBC, and community tribunal led by special guests US Human Rights Network and the National Human Rights to Water & Sanitation Coalition

WHEN: August 15, tour begins near 2 PM, solidarity action starts near 4:45 PM, tribunal will begin around 7 following the 6 PM City Council meeting 

WHERE: Uniontown, AL

  • For Community Tour meet at Piggly Wiggly, 128 Water St
  • For Solidarity Action with BBC at City Council meet at Uniontown City Hall, 100 Front St 
  • For Tribunal meet at Quinn AME Chapel, 100 Williams Avenue 

BBC invite all impacted citizens and fellow members of the National Human Rights to Water & Sanitation Coalition to this special community-based program including light supper and lodging.  For questions about program, please contact BBC anytime at bbcfhj.aj@gmail.com. For reserving community food and lodging, please email member@ushrnetwork.org by August 12.

BBC and allies hope to accomplish the following:

  • Support and address the needs and hopes of the most impacted residents by community leaders & non-government organizations
  • Influence local, state (ADEM), and federal decision makers to address the sewage crisis in Uniontown and include the citizens’ demands for clean water NOW!
  • Lift up the real narrative of community struggle and human rights violations regarding clean water and sanitation in Black Belt region ​
  • Launch human rights campaign in Uniontown and the Black Belt
  • Collaborate with the in the National Human Rights to Water & Sanitation Coalition​ and others  
  • Build and connect local & regional organizing for allies and freedom fighters to plan shared and collective solutions
  • Educate surrounding areas by working with local and national media

Needed Actions To Support BBC's Fight for Clean Water:

  1. Contact ADEM NOW and until August 15th and demand the clean water and sanitation by using the sample letters, emails, calls, and social media materials below. 
  2. Contact the Uniontown City Council NOW until August 15 and demand the immediate halt of daily overflows and plans for more sprayfields. Demand clean water and the construction of a new state-of-the-art system that builds a healthy future, please use the sample letters, emails, calls, and social media materials below. 
  3. Show up and attend August 15! Help us plan needed actions for after August 15!
  4. Tell your family, friends, and the people closest to you.  Share our asks with others!
  5. Donate to Black Belt Citizens to assist with legal defense, printing, travel, programming etc. BBC's ability to be tax-deductible is made possible by our super partnership with Project South: Institute for the Elimination of Poverty and Genocide.

BBC's Demands for Clean Water & Sanitation Now

  • BBC demand an immediate halt of the daily sewage overflows.  BBC demand the halt to the on-going plans of more sprayfield and wetland treatment methods.  BBC demand no sprayfields, no wetlands. 
  • BBC demand the immediate firing and replacement of Sentell Engineering with an engineering firm whose hiring is based on a democratic, town-hall style decision-making process. 
  • BBC demand a full accounting of the $4.8 million USDA project including an investigation into the City of Uniontown’s City Council and their past actions and procedures in decision making during executive session.
  • We demand all people responsible for the mismanagement receive swift and accurate justice.
  • BBC demand Harvest Select stop exceeding waste volume limits into the City’s system.  Uniontown should only allow the proper permitted volume input into the lagoon. 
  • BBC demand a state-of-the-art waste water treatment plant able to properly take Harvest Select’s wastewater and SE Cheese. BBC demand the responsible industries fund and construct the system. 

FACTS about Uniontown's sewage crisis:

  1. The Uniontown Lagoon, the City’s municipal wastewater treatment system, and sprayfield #1 have been in constant federal violations with its permit since at least 1987. 
  2. Sprayfield #1 began operation in 1992 from an order by ADEM and has been in violation of its permit since its beginning.  Sprayfield #1 has dozens of current holes that create large amounts of sewage flowing into Freetown Creek; this is daily, continuous, 24/7, non-stop overflows. 
  3. Harvest Select continues to overload the City’s system since opening in 1991 contributing over half or sometimes more than the lagoon’s designed capacity. No ADEM action has ever attempted to fix the overflows or the problems with Harvest Select’s volume. 
  4. City sewage is collected and brought to the lagoon cells adjacent to the school and downtown area.  Dozens of lagoon overflows have severely impacted Cottonwood Creek and the community.
  5. Sprayfield #1 was constructed improperly and illegally, the required hydrogeology reports were never completed in the initial construction to show that water would not soak or perk at that site.  These same tests were never required for sprayfield #2 during the USDA project process.
  6. The $4.8 million USDA project failed to fix any problems at sprayfield #1 and used some of the money to improperly construct sprayfield #2.
  7. The $4.8 million USDA project is a fraudulent-use of tax-payer money. Sprayfield #2 costs over $400,000, the money’s gone and problems are worse.  Sprayfield #2 is unable to be used due to improper and fraudulent construction.
  8. The City, Sentell, and ADEM continue to propose sprayfields and wetland at the site of sprayfield #1 while 100,000s of gallons of sewage leave that site everyday.  The sprayfield is permitted to enter groundwater only, the overflows continue to be illegal.  
  9. The direct dumping of wastewater into local streams is illegal and not authorized by their permit (AL0063657). However, after millions of wasted dollars recently spent on a new sprayfield system, both the Lagoon and Sprayfield #1 continue to overflow, sending raw or partially treated sewage into area streams.
  10. The present history of legal actions between the city and ADEM date back to August 6, 2003.  Over 13 years of legal actions but the problems continue.  ADEM is responsible for these horrors and violations.

Sample letters, emails, call-ins for City Council, Sentell, and ADEM:

Uniontown City Council, Mayor Jamal Hunter, mayorhunter@gmail.com
(334) 628-2011,    100 Front Street, Uniontown, Alabama 36786

Sentell Engineering, Gilbert L. Sentell,
(205) 752-5564,   639 Black Bears Way, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
E-mail: ssentell@sentell.net   Twiter: @sentell481

Al Department of Environmental Management, Director LeFleur  llefleur@adem.state.al.us
Glenda Dean, gld@adem.state.al.us, (334) 271-7823   
P.O. Box 301463 Montgomery, AL 36130-1463

Sample talking points for letter, emails, and calls:
We demand swift and immediate action to address the sewage nightmare in Uniontown, Al.  We ask for the immediate stop of daily sewage overflows & the on-going plans of more sprayfield and wetland methods.  We demand no sprayfields, no wetlands. We demand the immediate firing and replacement of Sentell Engineering with an engineering firm whose hiring is based on democratic, town-hall style decision-making process. We demand a full accounting of the $4.8 million USDA project including an investigation into the City of Uniontown’s City Council on past actions and procedures to improperly enter into executive session. We demand a state-of-the-art waste water treatment plant able to properly take Harvest Select’s and SE Cheese’s wastewater.   BBC demand the responsible industries pay for the system. We demand the City’s system able to meet federal permit limits for the protection of rights and long-term positive growth in Uniontown.

Sample Digital Solidarity:

  • #WaterIsAHumanRight. Email gld@adem.state.al.us and call (334) 271-7823 to demand @ADEM stop building sprayfields.  Demand clean water and sanitation for #Uniontown
  • Uniontown’s sewage crisis of at least 3 decades continues daily with overflows. Email gld@adem.state.al.us and demand a new state-of-the-art wastewater system treatment for Uniontown.  #StandWithUniontown
  • @ADEM needs to stop #Uniontown daily sewage overflows.  #EnoughIsEnough.  Email gld@adem.state.al.us and call (334) 271-7823 to demand clean water and sanitation for Uniontown. 
  • #EnoughIsEnough. Call @ADEM (334)271-7823 and email gld@adem.state.al.us to demand state-of-the-art wastewater system treatment for Uniontown.