Skip to main content

Title VI Environmental Justice Investigation of the Alabama Department of Public Health – Lowndes County, AL

On May 4, 2023, the Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights announced that the Civil Rights Division secured an Interim Resolution Agreement in its first environmental justice investigation under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI).  The nearly 18-month, joint investigation with the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights examined whether the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) conducts its onsite wastewater and infectious diseases and outbreaks programs in a way that causes residents of Lowndes County, which is predominantly Black, rural, and low-income, to lack access to adequate wastewater systems and unlawfully bear the legal consequences and health risks of exposure to raw sewage.  The Agreement requires ADPH to take multiple actions to improve access to proper onsite wastewater disposal and protect public health for Lowndes County residents who lack the means to install/repair functioning septic systems.  This includes: (1) suspending criminal penalties and liens related to possible violations of sanitation laws; (2) planning equitable onsite wastewater (septic) solutions; and (3) expanding public health awareness. 

The Agreement follows from an investigation launched in November 2021 under Title VI and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (Section 1557).  Title VI prohibits recipients of federal funds from discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin in their federally funded programs and activities.  Section 1557 provides that an individual shall not be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination under, any health program or activity, any part of which is receiving federal financial assistance, based on the grounds prohibited under Title VI.

Press Releases:

If you have any questions, concerns, or information that you think may be relevant to this Agreement or the United States’ investigation of ADPH, please contact the Department of Justice at or 1-833-739-2103.  You may also contact the Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights at, 1-800-368-1019, or (TDD) 1-800-537-7697.

Lowndes County Resources:


Updated January 24, 2024