Nonpoint Pollution from Pet Waste
Bacterial pollution is the single most common problem facing Washington State waters. Excessive levels of bacteria are found in at least 30 percent of the state's polluted waters. The sources of bacteria vary with location. In urban watersheds, pet wastes are a significant source.
Studies show that about half of all dog owners walk their dogs in public areas. However, up to 40 percent do not clean up after their pets. Pet waste, whether left on paved surfaces or dumped outside, does not simply "disappear". This waste can be washed into storm drains, where it eventually enters our rivers, lakes, and streams. Bacteria in pet waste can contaminate our water, making it dangerous for drinking and swimming. It can also contaminate shellfish beds, making it hazardous to harvest and eat the shellfish.
Cleaning up after pets and properly disposing of their waste products helps protect Washington's rivers, lakes and streams. Cleaning up after pets protects people from exposure to waste-borne bacteria on land as well.
For more information on pet waste issues:
Last updated May 2008
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