Resolving the Jefferson County sewer crisis

Nov 21, 2011 No Comments ›› Admin

by Slade Blackwell

Trussville Tribune

October 20, 2011

For more than two years, and even before I was elected state senator, I have worked tirelessly to find a solution to the escalating Jefferson County sewer crisis.

After researching it thoroughly and trying to find a reasonable solution, it soon became apparent that this is not just a Jefferson County problem, but one that will affect the entire state of Alabama if it continues to go unresolved. If Jefferson County fails, there will be a ripple effect that will touch the entire state.

Throughout the process of finding a solution, bankruptcy has always been left on the table as the very last option. Bankruptcy would cripple Jefferson County by leaving us with higher borrowing costs that could be used to fund new projects. These higher borrowing costs would make it hard for us to attract new businesses, build new infrastructure or create new jobs.

But what is alarming is that this problem would not be confined to just Jefferson County; it would affect the entire state. Alabama cannot afford to forgo development or the addition of new jobs, but I’m afraid if the Jefferson County sewer crisis is not taken care of properly this may be our future.

While we must find a solution to the problem, we also must ensure that we never find ourselves in this situation ever again. I am currently working on legislation that would create an independent board that would oversee the sewer system. This would remove politics from the system and place it in the hands of a nonpolitical, professional group to manage.

As we look toward the future, I am focused on working with other members of the Jefferson County legislative delegation and other legislators across the state to find a solution to this problem once and for all. Of course, we always want to do what is ultimately best for the citizens and ratepayers of Jefferson County. But inaction will end up hurting everyone, regardless if they are ratepayers or where they live. We all want Jefferson County to thrive and be successful, but we must come together and start now.