ADPH agreement and enforcement moratorium will aid sanitation for Lowndes County households


CONTACT:  Alabama Department of Public Health, (334) 206-5300

Lowndes County residents who use septic tank systems need better and safer ways to dispose of wastewater (sewage). Many septic systems are not designed or installed to work with the Lowndes County Black Belt soil, which does not properly drain wastewater away from homes. Individual septic tanks can cost a lot of money and often stop working because of the drainage problem. Residents who rely on straightpipes or septic systems that do not work properly can get sick from exposure to raw sewage.

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is responsible for the review of applications and designs of septic systems to ensure they are properly designed for the soils of Lowndes County.  ADPH is also responsible for handling public health threats, such as exposure to raw sewage. The United States Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services conducted a civil rights investigation of the sanitation programs of ADPH. On May 4, 2023, ADPH made a legal agreement with the United States to take immediate actions on the raw sewage exposure issues in Lowndes County.

ADPH’s voluntary agreement with the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services will protect Black and low-income county residents of Lowndes County who:

  • Cannot pay to put in a functioning septic system;
  • Cannot afford to fix one;
  • Are not on a municipal sanitation system (sewer);
  • Are concerned:
    • They will be fined by a judge or face jail time
    • They will lose their property
    • Their personal information will be shared

This legal agreement is between ADPH and the United States – no one else – and only covers septic tank systems – not municipal sewer. ADPH wants to help Lowndes County residents improve their quality of life by stopping raw sewage from remaining on the ground outside homes or backing up into homes. To accomplish this goal the agreement does several things for residents who do not have the means to install/repair an ADPH-approved septic system:

  1. ADPH will no longer report Lowndes County residents to the police for not having a working septic tank system or for straightpiping as long as they:
    1. provide information to ADPH about their method of wastewater disposal, and/or
    2. apply under any program run by ADPH to receive an onsite septic/wastewater system approved by ADPH and designed to function with the specific soil at the property and keep sewage discharge to their property and not drain it onto other people’s property.
  2. Residents will not be fined by a judge or face jail time because they straightpipe or rely on septic systems that do not work properly.  This also means that residents will not lose their property because they cannot afford to install a septic system that works properly.

ADPH asks Lowndes County residents with straight pipes or with septic tanks that do not work properly to visit the website below or contact (334) 206-5373 to get information about getting a septic system designed, installed, or repaired so that it works with your property’s soil.  ADPH will not use your personal information to report you for straightpiping or having a septic system that does not work.

Go to the Lowndes County Septic System Program web page or call (334) 206-5373 to learn more.




County health departments throughout Alabama provide a wide range of confidential and professional services. Contact your local county health department for additional information.

Mission: To promote, protect, and improve Alabama’s health

Vision: Healthy People. Healthy Communities. Healthy Alabama.