It’s time for Uniontown to do the right thing

Published 2:35 pm Sunday, July 27, 2014

On Monday, Aug. 4, the Uniontown city council will hear formal presentations from two engineering firms regarding how the city can finally fix the wastewater treatment problems that have been ongoing for decades.

They will pitch ideas to the council for how treated waste water can either be pumped away from the city, or treated in a new hold-and-release systems.

Both options are expensive, and whatever option is selected, it needs to be the best fit for this small town.

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But this is Selma. Why should we care about this? Why should we worry about wastewater that is leaking into creeks, fields and streams around a tiny town in rural Perry County?

We all need to care because this is an example of what happens when the people responsible, at all levels — from citizens to statewide environmental agencies — don’t work together every step of the way.

We all need to care because the treated sewage that seeps into the groundwater in Uniontown could easily find its way to streams and rivers across the region and the state.

Ask any party with a vested interest in the wastewater treatment nightmare in Uniontown, and they will have a finger to point at someone else for why the project has not been fixed.

They are all right, and they are all wrong.

There will likely be a time to wring our hands, look over the failures of the past and place the blame at the feet of one agency, one firm, or one elected official. But for now, those in charge must work carefully and diligently to find the right solution.

In stories published in the Times-Journal, it is clear Uniontown’s current leaders — namely Mayor Jamaal Hunter and city council member Dr. Vera Davis — are keenly aware of the importance of the situation of the decision they will soon make.

“Whatever we do at this point in time, if we don’t make the best step and the best effort, it’s not going to just impact me,” Davis said during a public forum earlier this month to discuss the wastewater issues. “It’s going to impact the entire city. If we don’t take our time and look at all the opportunities, we could be right back where we are now.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

While everyone wants a quick solution, we need to be mindful that even after an option is selected the city will be responsible for finding the necessary funds and ensuring that all the necessary environmental tests are done before construction begins.

This will take time and money, but it has to be done right.

The people of Uniontown, Perry County and the Black Belt deserve to know the elected officials, engineering firms and enviromental agencies are on their side with their best interests in mind.