An Alabama Town's Sewage Woes Test Biden's Infrastructure Ambitions

Glenn Thrush, The New York Times on January 13, 2022

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - What babbles behind Marilyn Rudolph’s house in the rural countryside is no brook.

A stained PVC pipe juts out of the ground 30 feet behind her modest, well-maintained house, spewing raw wastewater whenever someone flushes the toilet or runs the washing machine. It is what is known as a "straight pipe" - a rudimentary, unsanitary and notorious homemade sewage system used by thousands of poor people in rural Alabama, most of them Black, who cannot afford a basic septic tank that will work in the region’s dense soil.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s kind of like living with an outhouse, and I can never, ever get used to it,” said Rudolph’s boyfriend, Lee Thomas, who moved in with her three years ago from Cleveland.

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