“These people are going to end up rioting about this,” says Sheila Tyson, a community activist in Jefferson County, Ala. “If they let this stuff happen they are going to get the biggest riot the South has ever seen . . . I can see it coming.”
That’s a pretty serious prediction. What could possibly start a riot that big?
She’s talking about the likelihood of Jefferson County increasing its water and sewage bill rates.
Oh. Is it really all that bad?
“If the sewer bill gets higher, my light might get cut off and if I try to catch up the light, my water might get cut off. So we’re in between. We can’t make it like this,” says Tammy Lucas, a Birmingham resident who has been affected by a “financial and political scandal that has brought one of the most deprived communities in America’s south to the point of what some local people believe is collapse,” reports the BBC.
Lucas’ monthly water and sewage rate has managed to quadruple in the past 15 years. Currently, her bill is $150 a month, which she pays for by using her $600 social security check.
“We need to keep the water running because we’re women,” she says. “We need to take baths. I try to pay the sewer bill and the water bill together and then what little I got left I try to put on my lights. I got to have lights.”
One of her Birmingham neighbors, who wished to remain anonymous, has already decided between lights and water: His home now has a porta-potty next to it.