Protect the Rain – Pick Up the Poop
Pima County, Ariz. (December 22, 2020) – After such a dismal monsoon, we were wondering if it would ever come. Watching the weather; looking up at the sky; crossing our fingers. Finally, some precious, life-supporting rain came to the scorched desert and what did it encounter when it hit the ground? Trash, cigarette butts, and, among other items, pet waste. Undoubtedly, litter is obnoxious and pet waste can actually be harmful. Dog poop can contain disease-carrying microorganisms as well as transmit diseases to other pets, wildlife and even children.
More rain is in the forecast. How can leaving a little pet poop on the ground end up contaminating our stormwater? Thousands of dogs and cats deposit waste on the ground throughout our community. The waste from carnivores can be teeming with disease-carrying organisms such as bacteria, parasites, and viruses. In fact, just one gram of dog poop can contain 23 million fecal coliform bacteria! If ingested, this type of bacteria can affect health causing cramps, diarrhea, intestinal illness, and urinary tract and kidney infections.
When it rains, the water picks up whatever contaminants are on the soil or in our streets and takes the pollution to washes and the desert where it can affect native plants and wildlife habitats. Children and dogs love to play in the stormwater and wildlife relies on it. By picking up after our pets, we can prevent E. coli as well as other organisms from negatively affecting the health of all who come in contact with stormwater.
What You Can Do for Stormwater Quality
Pet waste contamination of stormwater is a problem with an easy solution:
- Pick up what your pets leave behind as well as properly dispose of the waste;
- Work with your neighbors to encourage responsible pet ownership; and
- Install plastic bag holders and bins for proper disposal around your neighborhood.
Here are other ways to help protect the quality of our stormwater:
- Fix leaky vehicles;
- Use copper-free or low-copper containing brake pads;
- Harvest rainwater to water plants on your property so it stays out of the dirty streets;
- Don’t be a litter bug and pick up litter when you see it;
- Dispose of household hazardous waste properly;
- Apply pesticide, herbicide, and fertilizer sparingly and minimize runoff – or use more earth-friendly ways to reduce pests and grow healthy plants.
More information about protecting stormwater quality is available at the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality’s Stormwater Management Program. Contact: Beth Gorman; firstname.lastname@example.org; (520) 724-7446
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