Crumbling pipes, tainted water plague black communities
CAMPTI, La. – Deep in the winding mass of crumbling back streets in Campti, Leroy Hayes sets a glass of water from his faucet in a patch of sunlight on the railing of his porch and watches specks of sediment float to the top.
Hayes said the town’s water system has been bad for years, with water often coming out brown and smelling like bleach. The family uses bottled water for drinking and cooking and often has to drive to the city of Natchitoches, 11 miles away, to wash their clothes. The Campti water leaves their clothes with a yellowish tint.
“Don’t nobody drink that mess,” Hayes said.
Like many poor African-American communities, Campti’s poverty is a significant impediment to making crucial improvements to the town’s infrastructure – including its old water system. Hayes is a lifelong resident of the town, where according to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than half of the predominantly African-American population lives in poverty. Campti’s median household income is only $15,428.