Residents of Jefferson County in Alabama are victims of a scandal involving banks and county officials that has rocketed sewage costs and forced the poorest among them to purchase outdoor toilets in the absence of running water.

Investment bank JPMorgan Securities was found guilty of bribing workers and officials to win a finance contract to upgrade the sewer system and now new county commissioners are struggling to make up for the accumulated debt and lost time. The county has filed for bankruptcy, but the bondholders involved stand to lose more than $4.5 million a month if the court rules against them and they’re contesting the motion.

Add to all this a $40 million budget shortfall and hundreds of layoffs and it appears that Jefferson County is in for a painful future. –ARK


He says he finds it cheaper to buy drums of water from a petrol station and pay a sanitation company about $14 a month to remove waste from his “porta-potty” than pay the combined sewer and water rate bill, which some months can reach $300.

… “These people are going to end up rioting about this,” she says. “If they let this stuff happen they are going to get the biggest riot the South has ever seen. Over this sewer business. I can see it coming.”

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