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Worn-down roads lead to the town’s meager collection of businesses, which include a Dollar General, a Papa John’s and a couple of gas stations – the Campti Quick Stop and an All-N-1.

Judy Daniels, Campti’s mayor from 2006-2010, said most of the town’s water infrastructure is anywhere from 40 to 60 years old, and the town doesn’t have money to fix it.

The town of Tallulah, 150 miles east of Campti, has had 11 health-based violations dating to 1991. Much of Tallulah was born from the 1,440-acre Scottland Plantation, where an old mansion still stands, the only remnant of the former village of Richmond, which was destroyed during Gen. About 40 percent of the population – which is 77 percent black – lives in poverty, including 60 percent of its children.

Decorian Herring lives with his two daughters in one of the most impoverished parts of Tallulah, a sparsely populated complex named Magnolia Villas.

Six of those came in the 1990s, when tests showed the presence of coliform bacteria – a sign that feces or sewage could be contaminating the water.

“Everything that happens now where people don’t want it, it goes into a poor and black neighborhood,” said Esther Calhoun, president of Black Belt Citizens Fighting for Health and Justice.

A News21 national analysis of water violations from the U. Environmental Protection Agency found that tens of millions of Americans are drinking contaminated water – particularly in small, low-income and minority communities.

Hayes is a lifelong resident of the town, where according to the U. Census Bureau, more than half of the predominantly African-American population lives in poverty. Skepticism about drinking water is pervasive in many black communities, most recently in the urban cities like Milwaukee, where high childhood lead poisoning rates plague the city, and Flint, Michigan, where lead from pipes leached into the city’s water.

But it also affects the pockets of poverty in states such as Louisiana, Alabama, North Carolina and Texas, where many residents rely on antiquated water systems and haphazard monitoring or live near businesses and industries whose waste, they say, pollutes their water systems.

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