“There is a human right for people to live decently.” Government must provide “the essentials of life, which include…(clean) water and sewage service.” This is what a UN poverty specialist said after visiting Alabama a few months ago. He was horrified by the conditions he found in our state; conditions such as ours are unheard of in a developed nation. Clean water is a human right for all Alabamians, but a systemic failure to protect this right has happened on our generation’s watch and it is simply shameful. Alabama’s sanitation issues are not just a matter of human decency, they are a matter of public health and safety. You may think these issues don’t affect you. And they may not. Yet. But disease carrying hookworms and mosquitoes breed in filth and don’t care what zip code they’re in.
It is unbelievable to me that candidates for Alabama’s governor’s seat are talking about so many issues meant to divide us, when dire conditions of our water and sewage systems demand that we act, quickly, as one concerned people. Massive raw sewage from spills in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Mobile and more spew all too frequently into our streets, neighborhoods, streams and yes, eventually seep back into our drinking water. So do toxic chemicals from numerous industrial polluters. What have our leaders been thinking when they put public health ate risk by letting our water and sanitation systems deteriorate, completely unaddressed?
I can tell you that they have not been thinking about your health nor that of your family. I intend to change that. The process will not be easy, but we must begin it. My plans include: creatinging a statewide water management plan to deal with quantity and quality issues; appointing environmental experts to the ADEM Commission, funding it properly again, charging the agency with enforcing the rules already on the books and demanding that they begin to levy fines commensurate with damage caused; and working with communities and universities to find solutions to lead contamination and sewage overflows plaguing every corner of our state. This looming health issue is just one more reason there is so much at stake in our upcoming gubernatorial election. Please help me get Alabama safely on the other side of this, as well as the many other pressing issues facing our state and her people.