Giving Compass' Take:

• Governing Magazine discusses the sewage issues raising public health concerns across the country. According to Catherine Flowers, a leading advocate for improving sewage disposal in Alabama, this is a problem affecting many poor communities of marginalized people.

• What other public health concerns is this issue raising? And how can nonprofits do more to help locals dealing with environmental-related hazards?

Read about a start-up that's helping growing cities deal with sewage problems.

Alabama’s Lowndes County, which lies between Selma and Montgomery, has been coping with basic sewage problems for decades.

Most residents of this rural county, who are predominantly poor and black, live too far from cities to attach their homes to sewer systems. So they rely on septic tanks. But installing and maintaining those septic systems is difficult -- not only because they're so expensive but also because they have to be specially designed to work in the region's clay-rich soil.

As a result, many people who live in Lowndes County have open pits of human waste in their yards or raw sewage backing up into their homes after heavy rains. Neither the county nor the state seems to be in any position to help, and at times, they’ve arguably made things worse.

The situation has received little attention outside of Alabama -- until recently.

After Baylor University researchers found evidence of hookworm, a tropical disease that's largely been eradicated in most developed countries, in more than a third of the residents they sampled in Lowndes County, a United Nations poverty investigator visited the area last December.

“I think it’s very uncommon in the First World. This is not a sight that one normally sees. I’d have to say that I haven’t seen this,” remarked Philip Alston, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, as he toured a nearby county.

Read the full article about sewage problems in Alabama by Daniel C. Vock at Governing Magazine.